Vulvodynia, Low-Oxalate Foods and the IC Diet

Many IC patients also have vulvodynia. Why are low-oxalate foods not included on the “Bladder-Friendly” IC diet list?

Many of the food lists shared between patients over the years included foods which affected people with IC as well as related conditions such as vulvodynia (or vulvadynia). However, the current ICA list of “least to most bothersome foods” is limited to foods and beverages that patients report worsen their IC symptoms. We narrowed the list for multiple reasons:

    • Though many IC patients have IC and vulvodynia, not everyone with IC experiences vulvar pain. Of note, is the growing number of men diagnosed with IC for whom vulvodynia is not a related condition.
    • The honed list allows people with IC to choose from a wider variety of foods. This streamlined version is also preferred by physicians, dietitians and healthcare providers.
    • Current research does not support a link between oxalate-rich foods with vulvodynia symptoms. Regardless, as researchers continue to investigate these conditions, your body is the best source of information. For example, up until a few years ago, research did not support the link between diet and IC. It didn’t mean that it wasn’t true; it meant that the research had not been done yet! To help researchers learn more about these links, please share your experience about what foods bother your IC and other health conditions—Help give the researchers clues by posting a note on the IC Facebook Community page.

If your IC is accompanied by other health problems, consider combining dietary recommendations as needed. For example, try eliminating oxalates from your diet to see if it helps to reduce your vulva pain and vulvodynia symptoms. Next, combine those diet changes with the IC food list by crossing out foods that are high (H and VH) and moderately high (M) in oxalates. This gives you a starting point. After time, you can try adding in some of the M foods to see if you react.

The goal is to develop your own, personalized trigger food list. For help with this process, consider talking to a registered dietitian who can help you create individualized meal plans with the healthiest foods possible. Many dietitians, including myself, provide individual counseling over the phone. To find a dietitian who can help you, check out the American Dietetic Association website.

Julie Beyer, MA, RD

Posted August 11, 2010