Urological conditions can be among the more painful sources of chronic pain you can experience. Case in point: interstitial cystitis, which can range from a feeling of mild pressure on the bladder to severe pelvic pain.
Interstitial cystitis is also known as painful bladder syndrome, and most often affects women. Nothing yet known to medicine can cure it, and it can have a long and lasting impact on your quality of life.
Neither is the precise cause of the ailment known. One theory is that those suffering from interstitial cystitis may also have a defect in the protective lining of the bladder which may allow toxic substances in urine to irritate the bladder wall. Other theories speculate the cause may be genetic, an infection, an allergic reaction, or an autoimmune response.
Symptoms of interstitial cystitis may include:
- Pain in your pelvis or between the vagina and anus in women or between the scrotum and anus in men;
- Chronic pelvic pain;
- A persistent, urgent need to urinate;
- Frequent urination, often of small amounts, throughout the day and night. People with severe interstitial cystitis may urinate as often as 60 times a day;
- Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills and relief after urinating;
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
You will note that the symptoms resemble those of the more common urinary tract infection.
See your doctor if you are experiencing frequent urinary urgency or chronic bladder pain. She will likely do a urinalysis to rule out a urinary tract infection, and a potassium sensitivity test. For this latter test, she will place water and potassium chloride into your bladder. People with normal bladders cannot tell the difference between either instillation, but those suffering from intercourse cystitis will experience varying degrees of pain.
Your doctor may also perform a cystoscopy, during which she inserts a thin tube with a tiny camera through your urethra to view the lining of your bladder. Along with cystoscopy, your doctor may inject liquid into your bladder to measure your bladder capacity, and remove a tissue sample for a biopsy.
There is no cure, nor even one particular best treatment, for interstitial cystitis. A regimen of painkillers, tricyclic antidepressants and antihistamines are often the first line of defense.
Nerve stimulation is another treatment option. Carefully delivered electrical pulses can both relieve pelvic pain, reduce urinary frequency, and strengthen the muscles that help control the bladder.