Why does it burn when I pee? Why am I in the bathroom for what seems like the majority of my day? Why can’t any doctor tell me what is wrong with me? These are questions you may have asked yourself over the years, searching for a doctor who can diagnose you with SOMETHING.
“You have Interstitial Cystitis”, the doc tells you. You ask, “what does that mean?”. The doc prints you out a handout explaining it is “a chronic bladder condition” and sends you on your merry way.
You go home, type “Interstitial Cystitis” into Google. Multiple pages pop up, flooding your vision and quite frankly, escalating your anxiety. You feel your bladder start to ache, and know you have a long journey ahead of you.
While you may have a different range of symptoms or story of how you became diagnosed, you fall into a small population of the world with this condition.
So what is Interstitial Cystitis (IC)? You can find a wide range of definitions across the Internet, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as: “a chronic bladder condition resulting in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder or surrounding pelvic region.”
Ok, that kinda sorta describes it. Many other websites cite general symptoms such as urgency, frequency, and pain. Each of these symptoms can be further broken down into more specific symptoms, such as painful urination or pain during intercourse.
So this leads us to the question, what do I do next?
3 Steps to Take After Being Diagnosed with IC:
1. Join a Support Group - Are you on Facebook? There are multiple IC support groups out there. This is one way to connect with fellow IC sufferers and share experiences with one another. But let me warn you, be wary of advice you receive through these groups - what works for one person may not work for someone else. Take advice with a grain of salt. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before taking someone’s advice about diet or treatment.
2. Elimination Diet - An Elimination Diet is the gold standard of identifying individual food triggers. Yes, there are common food and beverage triggers for the general IC population, but you individually may be bothered more by, let’s say, artificial sweeteners than a stranger you read about on a website. An Elimination Diet consists of 2-4 weeks of eliminating trigger foods from your diet, and slowly adding them back in. *This is a service I currently offer.
3. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy - say what? Yes, pelvic floor PT is a cited treatment method for IC. What is my pelvic floor?, you ask. Your pelvic floor is the collective term for the muscles, ligaments, and tissue that support the bladder. Trigger points in the pelvic floor can reproduce all the “classic” IC symptoms. Pelvic floor PT can help alleviate many symptoms of IC such as pelvic pain, back/hip pain, and frequency issues, to name a few. It can also help rule out underlying causes of IC. Ask your provider for a referral and a list of recommended PT’s in the area.
Follow me for more information regarding the IC diet!
IC You Podcast (available on Apple Podcasts & Spotify)
Interstitial cystitis. (2020, February 13). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/ic/index.html
The ABCs of IC and PT. (2017, June 22). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.ichelp.org/abcs-ic-pt/