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Could You Be Suffering With Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory bladder condition in which there is persisting chronic pelvic pain, urinary frequency and urgency, bladder pain or pressure, and it can also resemble the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, but there will be no infection present. The pain can range from being mild to severe.

Worldwide Interstitial Cystitis affects up to 100 million people and it can affect both men and women, regardless of age. IC is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and chronic pelvic pain (CPP)

Women with interstitial cystitis may experience many of the same symptoms as those with endometriosis. Women can have both Interstitial Cystitis and endometriosis at the same time. Some people with IC may also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia and other pain syndromes

People with IC have chronic symptoms in the urinary tract that last more than 6 weeks in duration. Infection has not been identified as a cause of IC. Physical and emotional stress can worsen the symptoms of IC.

Interstitial Cystitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Chronic pelvic pain that lasts 6 months or more
  • Symptoms affected by the menstrual cycle
  • Pain, pressure, discomfort or unpleasant sensation that may worsen as the bladder fills
  • Urinating often alleviates the pain and may give a temporary sense of relief;
  • Suprapubic pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic pain (lower abdominal pain), sometimes extending to the lower part of the back, the groin and thighs
  • In women there may be pain in the vagina and vulva
  • In men, pain in the penis, testicles, scrotum and perineum
  • Both men and women may have pain in the urethra and rectum
  • Pain with sexual intercourse in both men and women (dyspareunia)
  • Pain on ejaculation in men
  • Pain may worsen with specific foods or drinks
  • A frequent need to urinate (frequency), including at night (night-time frequency or nocturia)
  • An often urgent or compelling need to urinate (urgency)

The pain may be experienced as discomfort or tenderness or irritation or burning sensation in the bladder, in the form of spasms in or around the bladder, or stabbing or burning vaginal pain or simply a feeling of pressure on or in the bladder or a feeling of fullness even when there is only a little urine in the bladder.

In many people, the pain is relieved temporarily by urination, while other people may also feel strong pain following urination.

The pain or discomfort may be constant or intermittent. It may also be felt throughout the pelvic floor, including the lower bowel system and rectum. In some patients the pain may be very severe and debilitating.

Other people, particularly in the early stages, may have milder frequency with/without urgency and without a true sensation of pain. What they may experience, however, is a feeling of heaviness, fullness, discomfort or pressure.

Diagnosis

During the evaluation of potential IC, several tests may be completed to make a diagnosis. These tests may include taking a full medical history, completing a bladder diary, pelvic examination, including a neurological exam and urinalysis to rule out or diagnose an infection

Other diagnostic tests that can be carried out include:

Cystoscopy: This is performed inserting a tube, with a camera attached, into the bladder to evaluate the lining and to look for inflammation and signs of disease. A specialist may also evaluate the bladder capacity with a cystoscopy.

Urodynamics: The bladder is filled to test its capacity by measuring the pressure during filling and voiding. These tests evaluate the function of the bladder, urethra, and sphincter muscles.

Biopsy: During a cystoscopy, a biopsy may or may not be taken to rules out cancer or other inflammatory bladder conditions that can cause pain similar to IC.

Potassium sensitivity test: This is a test in which potassium and water are instilled into the bladder. In healthy bladders, pain is not felt with either solution. In cases of IC, however, pain is typically experienced when the potassium is instilled.

Diet

People with IC may be sensitive to certain foods and beverages. There is a range of items a person may need to excluded from their diet after receiving an IC diagnosis. This will be different for each individual but there are certain foods and drinks that an individual with IC should be aware of potentially needing to avoid. There are food and drinks such as:

  • tea and coffee
  • Soft drinks and soda (including diet drinks)
  • alcohol
  • citrus, citrus drinks and cranberry
  • artificial sweeteners
  • spicy food

Some people with IC may need to a food elimination diet over several weeks to see which specific foods and drinks may be exacerbating their symptoms. There are many foods that do not have an irritating effect on the bladder and contain vital nutrients to help fight disease. This is why elimination diets and specific dietary requirements need to be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

People with IC should also give up smoking if they are a smoker, as the chemicals can affect this condition too.

Treatment

The treatment of interstitial cystitis is complex and needs a multimodality approach to treat it effectively. It may require treatments such as:

  • Urodynamic Therapies
  • Physiotherapy with a specialised pelvic floor physiotherapist
  • Pelvic Floor Therapy (Kegels, Yoni eggs, Ba Wen Balls, internal TENS)
  • Surgery, including laser surgery
  • Neuromodulators, such as electrical nerve stimulators
  • Injections, such as Nerves blocks, Antispasmodics and Botox therapy
  • Pain medications- including narcotics, NSAIDS, Anti-inflammatories,
  • Hormone therapy, both oral and intravaginal
  • Antidepressants
  • Acupuncture
  • Pilates and Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Herbal Medicines, including Chinese Herbal Medicines
  • Amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants
  • Sex Therapy and counselling
  • Mindfulness
  • Adopting health sleeping habits

Your specialist or healthcare provider will discuss the best forms of treatment for your individual case. People with IC should also be referred to a Urodynamic and Pelvic Floor Specialist who specialises in this area.

Complications

Complications from IC can vary between individuals and why there is no one treatment fix all approach to this conditions. IC can affect a person life on so many levels. It can affect their bladder volume, their quality of life, their sex life, their libido and have an affect on sexual intimacy and it can also cause them emotional distress. It is a complex condition that can affect every aspect of a person’s life both physically and mentally and why a multimodality treatment approach is needed.

Causes

The exact cause of IC is not known, but there are several theories as to what triggers the condition. Some possible causes include:

  • Damage due to previous surgery
  • Defects in the lining of the urinary bladder that cause irritation
  • Overstretching of the bladder due to trauma
  • Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Genetics
  • Allergy

IC is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects many people world wide. It cannot be fully cured and requires close clinical management and care. A multimodality treatment approach needs to be adopted that is suited to the individual. When this is done properly, people with IC can still have a good quality of life.

Recommended treatment usually involves diet and lifestyle changes, stopping smoking, drinking less before bedtime, and scheduling planned toilet breaks to ensure the bladder does not get too full.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Medicine Specialist

-No Stone Left Unturned

Dr Andrew Orr Logo Normal 20 07 2016

 

Bladder Endometriosis

What is Bladder Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue resembling the uterus lining grows outside the uterus, such as on the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can spread to every organ in the body and can grow inside, or on the outer surface of the bladder.This is what is known as Bladder Endometriosis.

To learn more about endometriosis and to learn about the symptoms of this disease, you can click on this link to find out more (Click Here)

If endometriosis forms in, or on the bladder, it that can cause severe discomfort and pain. It can also make a woman want to urinate more and also with urgency, pain, burning and frequency. There are other bladder conditions with the same, or similar symptoms, but endometriosis can also aggravate these conditions, or be present at the same time as well. I will discuss the other forms of bladder pain and interstitial cystitis, which can have similar symptoms to endometriosis affecting the bladder, or bladder endometriosis.

Prevalence
Bladder endometriosis is not common. Reports state that around 2 percent of women with endometriosis may have endometrial growths in their urinary system, with endometriosis growing in, or on the bladder. But even if endometriosis isn’t on, or in the bladder, it can still cause issues with the bladder and cause associated symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis in, or on the bladder?
One of the main symptoms bladder endometriosis is pain when the bladder is full and a woman needing to urinate more frequently. It can also cause symptoms resembling a urinary tract infection, but no infection will be found to be present.  Women do need to be aware that a significant portion of women with endometriosis are asymptomatic (meaning no symptoms) and may not be aware that they have endometriosis until they have investigations for another reason, such as not being able to fall pregnant.

Some women are more likely to notice symptoms of endometriosis around the time they are due to have their menstrual cycle.

Other symptoms of bladder endometriosis may include the following:
• More frequent need to urinate
• Needing to urinate urgently
• Feeling pain when the bladder is full
• Stinging and burning or painful sensations when passing urine
• Seeing blood in the urine
• Experiencing pelvic pain
• Having lower back pain, more on one side of the body

Diagnosis
The definitive diagnosis for endometriosis is via a laparoscopy as this is the gold standard investigation for investigating disease states inside the pelvic cavity. A biopsy is usually taken at the same time to check the microscopic implants of endometriosis, which cannot be seen visually. Normal ultrasound, transvaginal or abdominal, cannot diagnose endometriosis. Blood tests cannot diagnose endometriosis either.

If Endometriosis has spread inside the bladder a cystoscopy would be needed also. A cystoscopy is where a small scope is inserted into the bladder and the specialist can then see if there is endometriosis, or other inflammatory disease in the bladder lining.

The specialist will then see what stage the endometriosis is at. This is a staging system from 1-4, but this is only to let the surgeon know how much of the disease is present. The staging system does not have anything to do with pain levels, as pain levels “are not” related to the extent of the disease. A woman with stage 1 endometriosis could have more pain than someone who is stage 4, and someone who is stage 4, may not have any pain, or associated symptoms at all.

Treatment
There is no current cure for endometriosis. However, the condition can be managed through a multimodality approach that involves surgery, hormones, pain medication, physiotherapy, herbal medicines, acupuncture, yoga, pilates, diet, lifestyle changes, counselling and an individualised approach. Women with endometriosis need a team approach.

Surgery, via a laparoscopy, is the most common treatment, and definitive diagnosis, for those with endometriosis. If endometriosis had been found in the bladder transurethral surgery will be done at the same time. This involves a scope inside the bladder to cut away any endometriosis in the bladder lining. Sometimes a partial cystectomy is needed to remove an affected part of the bladder.
While surgery is a much-needed part of the treatment and diagnosis of endometriosis, it is not a cure. Endometriosis can, and often does, grow back again, even with the best medical forms of treatment.

Fertility
Bladder endometriosis does not have any effect on a woman’s fertility. However, endometriosis does grow in other parts of a woman’s body and reproductive system such as the ovaries, which may affect a woman’s likelihood of conception. But, endometriosis does not always affect fertility.

The Difference Between Bladder endometriosis interstitial cystitis
When endometriosis gets in the bladder it can cause very similar symptoms to another bladder condition called interstitial cystitis. This can often make it very hard to differentiate on symptoms alone. It is also very possible to have both interstitial cystitis and endometriosis present at the same. This is why further investigations are needed to definitively diagnose both these conditions.
I will do a separate post on interstitial cystitis so that people know more about this inflammatory condition that affects the bladder

Outlook for Women With Bladder Endometriosis
At present there is no real known cause of endometriosis and only speculation as to what the true cause is. We know that endometriosis is estrogen driven (not from estrogen dominance), but the most likely cause is probably due to genetic reasons and being a hereditary condition passed on through the parental mode of inheritance and then expressed into the body. The how, when and why will hopefully be answered in the not too distant future hopefully.

Women with endometriosis in the bladder do need to be careful and managed properly as it can cause kidney damage. There is also some research to show that endometriosis in the bladder can lead to cancer in the bladder, but this is thought to be very rare.

For now, anyone with endometriosis needs to be clinically managed properly through a multimodality team approach mentioned before. Let’s get more education out there so that women with this horrible disease have a voice and we end the silence for these women as well. Hopefully through education, funding and further research, this leads to the cure that women with endometriosis so desperately deserve.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr                                                                                                                                            (Reproductive Medicine & Women’s Health Medicine Specialist)

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Period Pain IS NOT Normal

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