Painful Bladder Syndrome (Interstitial Cystitis)

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Women with painful bladder syndrome (PBS), also known as interstitial cystitis, may have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Bladder pain
  • Uncomfortable bladder pressure
  • Pelvic pain
  • Persistent, urgent need to urinate
  • Bladder pain that is relieved with urination
  • Frequent urination, often in small amounts
  • Pelvic pain during intercourse
  • Perineal pain (between the vagina and anus)

    Severity may fluctuate, and may be triggered by stress, diet or other factors. Pain may disappear for weeks or months, then come back. PBS can occur at any age, but it is most common in middle age.

    Evaluating PBS begins with tests to rule out other problems that can cause bladder pain, including overactive bladder, other pelvic pain syndromes, vaginismus (an involuntary spasm of the muscles surrounding the vagina that closes the vagina), urinary tract infection, kidney stones and cancer. If no other cause is found, the diagnosis is PBS.

    PBS can have many triggers, and they are different for everyone. Keeping a food diary may help you determine whether certain foods--often acidic foods like oranges and tomatoes, or caffeine and carbonated beverages--may cause a flare-up.

    Treatment for PBS requires patience and time to find what works for you. Dietary modification and quitting smoking may help. Pelvic floor physical therapy or Botox injections may provide relief. A medication called Elmiron has been approved for PBS, and medications like ibuprofen, antihistamines and antidepressants, or a combination of medications, may reduce urgency and frequency and block pain. Sacral nerve stimulation (InterStim) may decrease urgency, which may help with pain.

    If these methods don't help, other possible treatments include bladder stretching (distention), medications placed into the bladder through a catheter (bladder instillation), bladder augmentation, catheterization, surgery to remove ulcers on the bladder and, as a last resort, removal of all or part of the bladder.

Fast appointments - same or next business day for urgent care

Bala Cynwyd 610.667.3020  *  Jeanes Hospital 215.745.4130  *  Hahnemann Hospital 215.762.3200