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How Common Is Interstitial Cysitis and What Are My Treatment Options?

Interstitial Cysitis,Alpenglow Gynecology

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a painful inflammatory bladder condition which includes a feeling of pressure, discomfort, and urinary frequency when there is no bladder infection or other known cause. It can be accompanied by sensitivity of the vulva, which includes the whole outer vaginal area, and the pain may be worse during your period, when the bladder is full, and when the bladder is empty. The causes are unknown, but certain foods and lifestyle factors can exacerbate the symptoms, including:

It was once thought that interstitial cystitis was very rare with a less than 1% prevalence and many doctors were slow to diagnose it. More recently, however, the medical community has begun to recognize that this is more common than they once believed, and according to the CDC, as many as 12% of women may have this miserable condition during their lifetime. Without treatment, it often gets worse and less manageable over time.

Fortunately, for those with interstitial cystitis, there are treatments for these symptoms.

Physical Therapy

In some cases, working with a physical therapist and therapist-designed home exercises may improve symptoms, as this can help loosen stiff connective tissues and strengthen pelvic muscles, relieving pressure, and reducing inflammation.


Medications can provide some relief with ongoing usage and may be part of your treatment program here at Alpen Glow Gynecology, but we should note that most medication only masks symptoms and doesn't actually cure the condition. These medications include over-the-counter drugs like:

In addition, for the treatment of interstitial cystitis, the FDA has approved Pentosan polysulfate sodium, which is thought to target the bladder's inner wall, strengthening it against irritants over a period of 2-4 months and reducing the urinary frequency symptoms as well.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

A TENS unit emits mild electrical pulses into a target area to increase blood flow and promote the release of endorphins, which temporarily reduces the need to go and other painful interstitial cystitis symptoms. Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC designs a frequency and duration plan that works with your schedule and helps you get relief.

Sacral nerve stimulation

Dr. Guida may also perform a sacral nerve stimulation, which reduces the urge to go and the pain in some patients. If you respond well to this procedure, Dr. Guida may recommend a more permanent nerve stimulation procedure in which a device that is similar to a pacemaker is surgically implanted to provide ongoing nerve stimulation.

Bladder Distention

This procedure expands the bladder with water, relieving tension in the bladder walls and muscles and reduce symptoms in some patients. Because it's a relatively non-invasive procedure, it can be repeated frequently to continue to provide relief.

Bladder Instillation

Using a catheter, which is a very thin tube that is inserted into the urethra, Dr. Guida injects medication directly into the bladder, allowing the medication to sit in the bladder for around 15 minutes before draining it.

Surgical Options

If less invasive treatments have been tried and failed, then the next options are surgeries, which might include:

If you're suffering with the symptoms of interstitial cystitis, don't wait any longer. Each patient is different and Dr. Guida helps design a treatment plan for you. Book online today. 

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