Every time I have said the words ‘Interstitial Cystitis’ to someone I am given the response; “What’s that’?
Explaining to family, friends and doctors that I have a chronic bladder problem at 24 years of age is not something I imagined I’d have to do. If this story helps other women find her diagnosis sooner, then it’s a story I’m happy to tell.
My journey to finding an accurate diagnosis took months of investigation and left me thousands of dollars out of pocket. All this while living in Australia where the healthcare system is mostly free.
The UTI that wouldn’t go away, ended up being a chronic bladder infection
After two years of pain, I was desperate to find a solution and solve the issue that was having a significant impact on my life. Over this time I had seen a General Practitioner, Gynaecologist, Immunologist, Nutritionist, Acupuncturist & Naturopath seeking an answer to my burning questions. What was causing my pain, and how can I reduce/stop the effects of my symptoms?
The pain of Interstitial Cystitis manifests very similar to a UTI. It is constant, annoying and often makes you feel self-conscious. It caused problems in my relationship and stopped me from having sex with my partner for close to 8 months. During treatment with my army of medical practitioners, I was misdiagnosed with a Urinary Tract Infection, Thrush, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometriosis, only to find that none of these were accurate. I was beginning to think that I was going crazy and had made up the pain in my head.
I was misdiagnosed with a Urinary Tract Infection, Thrush, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometriosis
Luckily after two years of hunting for answers, I decided to change to a private Gynaecologist who was able to provide the diagnosis of Interstitial cystitis also known as Bladder Pain Syndrome. This chronic bladder issue causes a feeling of pain and pressure in the bladder and surrounding area. The feeling is similar to a UTI that lasts for more than 6 weeks, (in my case for two years) without having an infection or other visible symptoms. Unfortunately, experts are still unclear on what causes Interstitial Cystitis and awareness of the issue is still very low.
My Gynaecologist provided me with the treatment options of surgery, drugs and/or bladder training. After choosing bladder retraining and seeking the help of a physical therapist, I was finally able to get the pain under control. It’s now a year later and I very rarely feel the symptoms. I will occasionally experience flair-ups when I eat high amounts of sugar or am feeling very stressed but with my bladder and eating behaviour under control, my wellbeing is dramatically improved.
For more information about Interstitial Cystitis consult your GP or Gynocologist.