Is there a connection between IC and UTIs?

Urine cultures of IC patients are typically negative, meaning that bacteria cannot be found. Some theorize that IC may be triggered by an initial bacterial infection, or that bacteria are somehow connected with the disease. Some IC patients have a history of recurrent UTIs prior to developing IC. However, many IC patients have no history of UTIs. No evidence of bacteria or viruses in the urine cultures or bladder biopsies of IC patients has been found.

IC patients can experience a UTI in addition to suffering from IC. This will require treatment with antibiotics. Patients who do experience occasional UTIs may need further urological evaluation to seek a cause. Since UTIs can have such a negative impact on the symptoms of IC, it is important to treat the UTI as soon as it is found. To prevent UTIs, techniques such as antibiotic prophylaxis (taking low doses of a given antibiotic to prevent infection), and hormone replacement therapy (in post-menopausal women) can sometimes be helpful.

I was diagnosed with extremely tight pelvic muscles. Internal physical therapy only causes more pain. Do you have any suggestions?

When appropriate physical therapy applied by a qualified and well-trained pelvic floor therapist does not help the pelvic pain or even makes the pain worse, there could be two reasons. As in all manual therapy for “tight muscles”, there is a lag time in the early days, weeks and even months of therapy before the “muscle memory” can be finally calmed down. Remember, it often took years for those muscles to be in constant spasm. Therefore, it will take time for them to relax, and they will often “fight back” for periods of time as a good therapist works with you. There is a second reason why good physical therapy may cause pain. If pain triggers due to pudendal neuralgia, irritable bowel syndrome, or other associated conditions are not being treated adequately, physical therapy for IC will not be enough. Your physical therapist cannot work alone with these issues. A team of healthcare providers is needed to resolve these issues.

This question was answered in the ICA webinar, IC’s Role in CAPPS, featuring Dr. Robert Echenberg. View the webinar to learn more about this topic.

I have been diagnosed with chronic prostatitis. I had prostate removed but still have the symptoms of chronic prostatitis. Could I have IC?

Absolutely yes. So many men are misdiagnosed with chronic prostatitis. Most of the male patients in our pelvic pain program have gone through this experience as well.

This question was answered in the ICA webinar, IC’s Role in CAPPS, featuring Dr. Robert Echenberg. View the webinar to learn more about this topic.

Is vaginal atrophy a component of IC?

No. Post-menopausal vaginal thinning and dryness—either from natural menopause or surgical menopause (removal of ovaries before natural menopause)–has nothing directly to do with IC. However, sexual dryness is a completely different physiology in pre-menopausal women. Any pain associated with sexual intimacy at any age will tend to shut off the normal arousal type lubrication that occurs when there is a pleasure sensation. Therefore, the lack of lubrication in women with IC is extremely common due to the pain associated with penetration intercourse.

This question was answered in the ICA webinar, IC’s Role in CAPPS, featuring Dr. Robert Echenberg. View the webinar to learn more about this topic.

Revised Monday, March 30th, 2015