Published: Oct 4, 2016, edited: Nov 10, 2018 by Dr. Zelmanovich (Gynecologist in NYC), Manhattan Women's Health & Wellness

Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis | NYC Pelvic DoctorWhere regular cystitis is directly linked to a urinary tract infection (or UTI), interstitial cystitis is a medical condition that has nothing to do with a UTI. In other words, while an untreated UTI can lead to cystitis, it does not usually lead to interstitial cystitis. They are two completely different conditions, despite the similar-sounding names and the fact that both involve your bladder.

Also known as IC or painful bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition that causes pain and/or pressure in your bladder. Doctors including gynecologist Midtown, Dr. Zelmanovich aren’t really sure what causes this condition, although it may have something to do with a defect or tear in the lining of your bladder wall. Interstitial cystitis can be mildly uncomfortable or severely painful.

Women older than 30 are most at risk for painful bladder syndrome. If you get it, you may suffer from this chronic condition for years. It may continue for the rest of your life. There is no known cure for interstitial cystitis, although your NYC OBGYN can treat it to control your pain and other symptoms.

Gynecologist Dr. Zelmanovich of Manhattan Women’s Health & Wellness offer a comprehensive Obstetrics & Gynecology care in NYC for women of all ages. At our obgyn clinic of we provide a full range of gynecology services, from annual check-ups and routine pap smears to Interstitial Cystitis treatment and gyn procedures, surgeries performed in our office or in the hospital. Our state of the art gynecology NYC facility is equipped with a latest obgyn equipment.

The Symptoms of IC

Normally, your bladder sends signals to your brain only when it’s full, so you get the urge to urinate. But when you have interstitial cystitis or IC, you get the signal to urinate more frequently and only a little comes out when you go. This is also common for a urinary tract infection. In fact, the symptoms of interstitial cystitis mimic those of a UTI so much that you may think that’s all you have.

But IC symptoms are chronic, where UTI symptoms go away with proper treatment. The pain and discomfort from interstitial cystitis can be mild or severe — and they vary over time. Other symptoms of painful bladder syndrome include:

  • Persistent pain in your lower abdomen
  • Pain in your perineum, the area between your vagina and your anus
  • Painful sensations during vaginal intercourse
  • Bladder pain
  • Frequent urination

Symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by your gynecologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to exclude any underlying serious condition.

If you have painful bladder syndrome, it may lead to complications, depending on the severity of your condition. You may always have a smaller bladder capacity, meaning more trips to the bathroom. The pain and discomfort, especially during sex, can lead to sexual dysfunction and intimacy issues. Both of these together can cause depression and a lower quality of life. Seek counseling if you need help dealing with your medical condition.

Diagnosing Painful Bladder Syndrome

If you suspect that you have a UTI or IC, it’s a good idea to keep a bladder diary, in which you record your symptoms, when you urinate and approximately how much. While the symptoms of both conditions — IC and UTI — are similar, the way to tell them apart is with a simple urine test. With interstitial cystitis, you’ll find no bacteria, which are always present if you have a UTI. But there are other ways for your OBGYN to diagnose painful bladder syndrome:

  • Performing a pelvic exam to check your genitals and pelvic organs
  • Taking a medical history about your frequent urge to urinate and reviewing your bladder diary, if you’ve been keeping one
  • Inserting a cystoscope, or thin tube with a light and camera on the end, through your urethra into your bladder to examine the inner lining for damage
  • Using the cystoscope to inject water into your bladder, a process known as hydrodistention, to ascertain the how much it can hold
  • Doing a potassium sensitivity test, in which water and potassium chloride are inserted separately into your bladder to determine if they feel the same or different
  • Taking a biopsy, which can be done through a cystoscope, to test for bladder cancer — it’s usually done if the other tests prove inconclusive

No Known Cure

Treating interstitial cystitis is an imperfect science. While there’s no cure, gynecologist Midtown, Dr. Zelmanovich has several options to treat your symptoms and ease your pain. Unfortunately, the treatments don’t all work on everyone. Your OBGYN NYC specialist often recommends the most common and least invasive first, to see if they ease your symptoms, before opting for the more invasive. Treatment options include:

  • Oral medications to control symptoms:
    • Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to ease your pain
    • Antihistamines to lessen your need to urinate frequently
    • Pentosan, a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating IC, but which takes months to begin working
  • Physical therapy to relieve pain and strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor
  • Nerve stimulation, which can help control your bladder impulses and your pain:
    • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which delivers electrical pulses to your lower back or pubic area
    • Sacral nerve stimulation, which can be a permanently implanted device, sends electrical pulses to your bladder
  • Bladder manipulation through hydrodistention, which stretches your bladder to relieve your symptoms and can be repeated as often as needed, if it works
  • Dimethyl sulfoxide or DMSO, a medication put directly into your bladder through your urethra
  • Surgery as a last resort, to burn away ulcers in your bladder, resect your bladder or augment your bladder by grafting on a removed section of your colon

Lifestyle Changes to Try at Home

This advice doesn’t work for every woman suffering from interstitial cystitis, but they’re worth listing in case they work for you. Try them in addition to the treatments you receive from your OBGYN, and you may find the combination helps relieve your pain and symptoms:

  • Avoid tight clothing around your abdomen, to keep anything from pressing on your bladder
  • Maintain a positive attitude and limit your stress
  • Stop smoking cigarettes, which can make any medical condition worse by weakening your immune system
  • Keep your weight at a healthy level
  • Stretch and exercise regularly, which can lessen your symptoms
  • Train your bladder to go according to a specific time, such as every half hour, instead of when you feel the need
  • Change your diet to limit or avoid the things that can irritate your bladder:
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeine, even in chocolate
    • Citrus fruits and juices
    • Carbonated beverages
    • Tomatoes
    • Spicy foods
    • Pickled food
    • Food containing lots of vitamin C
    • Some artificial sweeteners (test them for yourself)
    • Acidic foods

Symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by your gynecologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to exclude any underlying serious condition.

Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide gynecology guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult ob/gyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist or certified gynecology specialist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Do you have questions about Pelvic Pain, Interstitial Cystitis or Bladder Infection? Would like to schedule an appointment with one of the top rated NYC Gynecologist, Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, please contact our office.

Manhattan Women’s Health & Wellness
Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Midtown OB/GYN)
51 East 25th Street, Ste 403, New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
(212) 533-4575
Manhattan Women’s Health & Wellness
Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Upper East Side OB/GYN)
983 Park Ave, Ste 1D, New York, NY 10028
(Between 83th & 84th Street)
(212) 427-8761
Manhattan Women’s Health & Wellness
Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Union Square OB/GYN)
55 W 17th St Ste 104, New York, NY 10011
(Between 5th & 6th Avenue)
(212) 378-9985
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class gynecologist in Midtown regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or our Gynecology NYC office today and schedule a consultation with a top Midtown OBGYN gynecologist.