Bladder pain syndrome (also called interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome) is a chronic (long-term) pain condition that affects the bladder. Bladder pain syndrome affects more women than men. Some women have severe symptoms that can lead to other health problems such as depression. Bladder pain syndrome may also affect your sex life. There is no cure, but there is treatment to help relieve your symptoms, including pain. Sometimes symptoms get better without treatment.
What causes bladder pain?
You may know all about cystitis. If so, you probably mean bacterial cystitis, which is the medical word for a bladder infection (urine infection). The word ‘cystitis’ really only means an irritated bladder. It does not say what caused the irritation.
Women and men with pelvic pain often have another type of bladder irritation called either Interstitial cystitis (IC) or Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS). This type of cystitis is different from a urine infection. There is irritation of the bladder wall but no infection. It is one of several pelvic pains you can’t see at a laparoscopy or on an ultrasound scan.
If you have bladder troubles and pain on most days, then it is quite possible that you have PBS. Sometimes it is the bladder which causes most of the pain. Painful bladder syndrome is common in women with endometriosis. Men with Painful Bladder Syndrome are sometimes told that they have prostatitis, when the pain is coming from the bladder rather than the prostate.
The exact cause of Painful Bladder Syndrome is unknown and there may be more than one type. This may explain why no particular treatment suits everyone, and why you may need to try more than one treatment to find one that suits you.