Bladder pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but there is one condition that causes bladder pain that isn’t very well known: interstitial cystitis (commonly known as IC). September is National Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month. This year’s theme — “Millions Suffer, Few Understand” — is designed to encourage those living with IC and healthcare professionals to talk openly about the widely misunderstood condition.
Who is Affected?
Some refer to interstitial cystitis as Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS). Interstitial cystitis can occur in men and children, but it’s far more prevalent in women.
IC affects anywhere from 4 million to 12 million Americans, and many of those people aren’t even aware that they have it.
How is it Diagnosed?
It can be difficult to diagnose since people can experience an array of symptoms that can be confused with other medical problems. People with IC also tend to have other health problems like pelvic floor dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and chronic headaches.
What are Treatment Options for IC?
Interstitial cystitis may be easy for some people to manage, while for others, the pain can be severe enough to be debilitating. Simple day-to-day tasks like driving and sitting can become painful, and intimacy may feel nearly impossible.
Interstitial cystitis can be treated in a variety of ways. Your doctor may prescribe medication, bladder distention therapy, or nerve stimulation. Some people with interstitial cystitis use intermittent catheters to drain urine and avoid irritating the bladder.
How to Raise Awareness for Interstitial Cystitis
There are several things you can do during the month of September to raise awareness for IC. You could make a Facebook status or write a tweet about IC, wear a ribbon or pin, or even contact your senator or representative to ask them to support funding for interstitial cystitis and other urological problems. Regardless of what you do, make sure that you’re doing your part to raise awareness and help others with IC.