Painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis (PBS/IC) is a group of symptoms, including mild to severe bladder pain and an urgent and/or frequent need to urinate. The disorder can affect women and men, but is more common in women. It can be difficult to diagnose and treat because the underlying cause is not well understood.
Bladder pain and Interstitial cystitis
Did you go to the bathroom and suddenly feel a searing pain? If you did, you might be suffering from bladder pain. It is something that not alot of Australian women talk about but is fairly common. It can be caused by a few different things, such as Urinary Tract Infections, Bladder Cancer and Crohn’s disease. However, the most common cause of bladder pain is Interstitial cystitis (aka IC or painful bladder syndrome) with between 3 to 6% of Australian women suffering from it. It happens when your bladder gets inflamed or irritated and is likely to be at its worst when your bladder is full.
If you suffer from IC, you might also get symptoms associated with incontinence, such as needing to go to the bathroom very frequently or having to suddenly dash to the loo. If you are worried about having an embarrassing accident, you can always use Poise products that come in liners, ultrathins and pad varieties for discreet, comfortable protection so you can get on with living an active and dynamic life.
What causes bladder pain
The exact cause is not always known but most researchers believe that an event may act as a trigger to bring on the pain, some of these triggers may be:
- Bacterial infection
- Bladder overextension due to long periods without going to the bathroom
- An injury to the nerves in or surrounding the bladder or spinal cord
- Problem due to a surgical procedure or physical injury
One of the good things about bladder pain, especially when caused by Interstitial cystitis is that in up to 50% of cases, the inflammation goes away on its own as the body rights itself. You should always see your GP before you try any treatments, just to make sure you are not suffering from anything a little more sinister. In the meantime, try the following things (these can be done in the safety and comfort of your own home to help alleviate the pain):
- Putting a hot water bottle on the perineum (the area between your anus and the vagina)
- Take a regular painkiller if your tenderness is particularly bad (always follow packet directions)
- Relax in a squatting position with your knees drawn up towards your chest
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day to ensure your urine doesn’t become too concentrated and cause irritation
Certain lifestyle changes could also make the pain a little easier. Spicy foods, caffeinated soft drinks, alcohol and chocolates could make your pain worse. Smoking is also thought to exacerbate bladder pain due to its harmful by-products. Wearing loose pants and skirts can help you stay comfortable.
If pain is persistent or if you are worried it is always good to see your doctor to get peace of mind. If you are interested in learning more about your bladder and how it works, take a look at our female bladder page for an insightful look at your waterworks.
1. Rosamilia, A. ‘Painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis,’ Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2005, 19(6):843-859