Pelvic pain can be tough to diagnose. Many symptoms you may experience are common to several conditions. Take interstitial cystitis (IC) for example. The classic signs of pain and frequent urination also apply to urinary tract infections, fibroids, endometriosis, and other pelvic disorders.
But IC is different. It’s not an infection, and it’s not an illness; it’s a miscommunication in your nervous system. The nerve that normally sends a message to your brain that your bladder is full malfunctions, and it sends those messages even when your bladder is empty. Sometimes you feel mild pressure, and other times it’s downright painful.
Dr. Khashayar Shakiba at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North New Jersey is a board-certified urogynecologist who understands the frustrating cycle of pain and pressure you’re experiencing. He can help you find relief through medication and Botox® injections, and he’d love to meet with you to help you find the right solution to decrease your discomfort and increase your quality of life.
Meanwhile, Dr. Shakiba also believes you can do several things on your own to ease your symptoms. Here are a few things to try if you live with IC.
Smoking is bad for your health. You know that. But it's also making your IC worse. That’s because tobacco is a bladder irritant that can magnify your IC symptoms and increase the frequency and urgency of your need to urinate.
Put your IC on a diet
IC is a picky eater. Some foods seem to trigger symptoms, and others don’t. Here’s a sampling of a few known trigger culprits:
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy foods
You don’t have to give up everything you love to eat and drink when you have IC, but if you find which items trigger your symptoms, you can avoid them as often as possible and be prepared for the consequences when you decide to indulge.
Keep working out
Many women with IC think they can’t exercise because it makes their pain worse. But a sedentary lifestyle can set you up for weight gain and other health problems. The key to exercising with IC is finding the right fit.
Try less impactful activities like yoga, walking, or tai chi. Using lighter weights with more repetitions if you’re a lifter is a good way to make an adjustment while still reaping the benefits of strength training.
Don’t give up on sex
One of the classic symptoms of IC is painful intercourse. But abstaining from sex completely will decrease your quality of life as well as your partner’s. There are ways to enjoy intimacy even if you have IC. Try:
- New positions
- Cold or heat therapy after intercourse
- Explore “outercourse” techniques
- Prepare for intimacy with relaxation methods
Any condition that makes sex painful has the potential to lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. IC is not your fault, and you and your partner can find creative and satisfying ways to have a full and satisfying sex life together.
Pelvic pain feels worse when you’re wearing tight, constricting clothing. Make fashion choices that allow you to move freely and exit quickly (for when the urge hits). Cotton underwear is also a better choice than polyester or nylon, which tend to irritate. Anything you can do to care for your skin and body, including using mild detergent, will help you live with IC a little easier.
If you’ve tried these tips and still have uncontrolled symptoms, or if you have symptoms you think might be IC, come see Dr. Shakiba. Call our office at 201-279-5787 or request an appointment online so we can develop a treatment plan that will help you live as comfortably as possible with your IC.