Symptoms of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) differ from person to person and may even vary in the same individual over time. Some or all of these symptoms may be present:
Patients with IC/BPS may experience day and/or night frequency of urination (up to 60 times a day in severe cases). In early or very mild cases, frequency is sometimes the only symptom.
The sensation of having to urinate immediately, which may also be accompanied by pain, pressure, or spasms.
In the lower abdominal, urethral, or vaginal area. Pain is also frequently associated with sexual intercourse. Men with IC/BPS may experience testicular, scrotal, and/or perineal pain and painful ejaculation. Learn more about coping with IC/BPS pain.
Many IC/BPS patients find some pain relief from performing simple techniques that can be done at home:
- Place a cold pack, heating pad or hot water bottle directly on the perineum. Experiment to see whether cold or heat works best for you. Women place in the area between the anus and vagina; men in the area between the anus and base of penis.
- Take a warm sitz bath, with or without Epsom salts. Draw a small amount of water into the bathtub or use a plastic sitz bath (available at drug stores), which fits over the toilet.
- Place your knees against your chest, reclining with spread legs or adopting a squatting position.
- Drink a steady intake of water to reduce constipation and prevent your urine from becoming too concentrated or acidic.
- Take Calcium Glycerophosphate daily to reduce unintended acids in your diet and decrease IC symptoms which result from ingesting bladder irritants.
- Rest when you are able. Stress and fatigue can make your body perceive pain signals at a higher level.
- Ask your doctor if you can supplement your current treatment plan with L-arginine, Chondroitin Sulfate, IC-safe Aloe Vera, and/or Probiotics. Studies indicate these can be helpful in reducing IC symptoms.
- Keeping a pain diary can also be helpful in determining patterns and triggers for pain and can help healthcare providers to prescribe the most appropriate individual treatment plan.
Interstitial cystitis (IC) can be severely painful and incapacitating and may require aggressive pain management medicines such as opiate therapy when more conservative approaches fail. People with IC can experience both acute and chronic pain:
- Acute pain: has a sudden beginning and lasts for a shorter time period
- Chronic pain: recurs frequently or lasts for a longer time period
In addition to pain medicines, nonpharmacologic treatments for IC pain: diet modification, physical therapy (pelvic floor relaxation exercises), acupuncture/acupressure, electric nerve stimulation, ultra sound therapy, biofeedback training, hypnosis and cognitive therapy.