Everything you need to know about Bladder Pain Syndrome

Bladder pain syndrome (BPS), painful bladder syndrome, or interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition of the bladder that can cause severe pain or pressure below the navel. Symptoms could be constant or go away and return every now and then.



BPS can cause a wide range of symptoms of varying intensities. It often causes painful and frequent urination of up to 40-60 times a day. Up to 90% of people suffering from PBS are women, comprising about 3% to 6% of the adult women population. However, approximately 1.3% of men in the US can also have the condition. Usually, symptoms begin at the age of 40, and the risks heighten as people get older.

Diagnosis is also tricky since symptoms are similar to other conditions like kidney stones or infections. While there is currently no cure for BPS, living with it can be made easier through treatments.

What are the symptoms of bladder pain syndrome?

Symptoms may vary greatly and may change in a span of days to weeks or can persist for a few months to several years. These symptoms include:

● Pressure and pain of the bladder that worsens as it fills up. Bladder pain can range from a faint ache to an excruciating or shooting pain.
● Pain in the urethra, lower back, lower abdomen, or pelvis.
● In women, pain in the vagina, vulva, or the region behind the vagina.
● In men, pain in the penis, testicles, scrotum, or the area behind it.
● The need to pee very often, more than 7 to 8 times a day.
● Pain during or after sexual intercourse or orgasm.
● Feeling as if you need to pee even if you just went.
● Inflamed bladder
● About 5% to 10% may get bladder ulcers.

These symptoms are often triggered or worsened by:

● Eating certain foods or drinks
● Physical, mental, or emotional stress
● Menstrual period

What are the causes of BPS?

While it is not clear to experts and doctors why it happens, they have ideas such as:

● A bladder problem wherein the tissues are incapable of protecting the bladder from being irritated by your pee’s components
● Inflammation that prompts the body to release chemicals that lead to symptoms
● Urine composition that damages the bladder
● A nerve problem causing you to feel pain from things that are not typically painful
● An autoimmune disease or a condition where your immune system attacks healthy bladder cells
● Pelvic floor dysfunction
● A different inflammatory condition of the bladder

How can BPS be treated?

BPS treatments start with conservative measures like physical therapy and behavioural management. Some behavioural modifications and home or lifestyle treatments are as follows:

● Local hot or cold compress over the perineum and bladder
● Avoiding fluids and foods that are commonly known irritants or triggers. These include citrus fruits, chocolate, tomatoes, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods.
● Trying an elimination diet
● Bladder training through the use of urge suppression techniques
● Wearing loose clothing to relieve pressure on the bladder
● Doing low impact exercises like yoga or walking
● Quit smoking
● Avoidance of stress- try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, reading a book, stretching, talking to a trusted friend, or taking long walks.

Other treatments include:

● Pelvic floor physical therapy
● Oral medications
● Steroids
● Neurostimulation
● Botox
● Cyclosporine treatment
● Surgery

BPS can affect your life in many ways. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor or healthcare adviser about possible treatments and helpful tips on managing the symptoms.


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