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It took me five years to get a proper diagnosis for interstitial cystitis. Often masquerading as chronic UTI’s (urinary tract infections), bladder Infection, pelvic pain, and even latex allergy, interstitial cystitis (IC for short) is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed condition affecting one’s pelvic health and overall quality of life.
What is Interstitial Cystitis?
IC is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the bladder, bladder and pelvic pain. If you’re here, chances are someone has mentioned IC to you as a possible diagnosis for all the symptoms you’ve been having recently, or maybe even for the past few years.
What are the symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?
- Pelvic pain, mild to severe (not being able to get out of bed on bad days)
- Frequent urination
- Not being able to urinate completely
- The feeling of needing to urinate (urgency)
- Frequent urination at nighttime
- Pain during penetrative intercourse
- Pain for 24 – 48 hours following orgasm (pelvic floor spasms)
- Pelvic and anal muscle spasms
- Low back pain
- Burning while urinating (very similar to UTI pain)
- Premenstrual flares of pain
You think you have Interstitial Cystitis. Now what?
Perhaps you’ve been talking to your doctor for the past five years about these symptoms (five years is the average of how long it takes to get a proper IC diagnosis) and have yet to reach a proper diagnosis. You might even be taking UTI pills on end!
Tell them that you think it’s interstitial cystitis and request a referral to a pelvic health specialist or a pelvic physiotherapist. Never heard of pelvic physiotherapy? It’s. About. To. Change. Your. Life.
The quality of life for those who live with IC is comparable to dialysis and cancer patients. Don’t be shy about demanding help from specialists from your doctor. It’s your right to find relief from pelvic and bladder pain.
How do I manage my symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?
Know Your Triggers
Your triggers can range from coffee, to spicy or acidic food, to penetrative sex, to stress. Even travel can cause a flare up of IC symptoms.
When you know your triggers, you can prepare yourself ahead of time. Have a work trip coming up? Make an extra follow up with your physio. Love that morning coffee? Switch to mushroom coffee or cut it altogether.
Manage Your Stress
A healthy, balanced lifestyle equals a healthy balanced bladder. Making meditation and even a gentle yoga practice part of your daily life can greatly reduce your stress, and in turn, the tension in your pelvic region which can trigger an IC flare.
Find the Right Vitamins and Supplements
Monitor your intake of vitamins to notice which vitamins make your symptoms worse. Vitamins derived from citrus fruits (such as vitamin C) can cause a flare.
Harsh weightlifting might be putting too much strain on your lower back and pelvic floor. Light yoga, a gentle walk after a meal are good remedies for keeping the body moving while you’re in the middle of a flare.
Pelvic Floor Relaxation
Keeping your pelvic floor relaxed isn’t always easy. You might not even know you have pelvic muscles! Become aware of where you hold tension while standing and walking, and gently aim to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
A daily practice of pelvic floor relaxation can greatly reduce symptoms. IC sufferers often live with dyspareunia (pain with vaginal intercourse). An assessment of your pelvic floor may be necessary. Get to that Pelvic Physiotherapist!
Get support. You’re not alone.
Between 3 million and 6 million women in North America live with IC. It can be debilitating on its worst days and you can feel alone, but you’re not. There are others out there who are living and thriving with IC. Check out various interstitial cystitis support groups, an active support group on Facebook and join the conversation on Instagram with The Happy Pelvis.