There are many possible reasons for one to experience ongoing pain in the bladder and genital area. The causes of pain and the perception of pain severity vary tremendously from person to person Because there are some many structures that pass thru the pelvis it is often very difficult to determine the underlying source or multiple sources of the pain. Because both urologic and gynecologic sources may be involved it is very important to see the “whole picture” and not approach this only thru the eyes of a gynecologist or a urologist.
Some of the main pain categories include:
INTERSTITIAL CYSTITIS (IC)
IC is also known as the painful bladder syndrome. It affects women of all ages. In general it feel like a bladder infection (UTI) that never seem to go away. It is often misdiagnosed as a recurrent UTI. Patients often experience pain in the mid lower pelvis and or in the vaginal area. IN GENERAL the pain is worse as the bladder becomes full. For some people it may be triggered by stress, certain foods (tomato based foods, spicy foods, acidic foods- certain juices) and by sexual intercourse. Patients typically must frequently urinate to help reduce the pain. The symptoms often increase and decrease over time for no apparent reason. The only way to help differentiate IC symptoms from those of a UTI is to have your urine sent to a laboratory for a culture (NOT an in the office urine analysis). There are many effective treatments for IC- unfortunately there is no standard treatment for everyone. Treatment becomes a process of trial and error to establish what treatment work specifically for you.
We have had tremendous success treating IC symptoms with various medications, bladder instillations, physical therapy / biofeedback and nerve blocks.
This condition results in ongoing vaginal pain. The pain is often exacerbated by any contact to the vaginal area such as wearing tight clothing or sitting on a hard seat. It often times makes sexual intercourse very painful or impossible
Helpful links: http://www.nva.org/about_vulvodynia/what_is_vulvodynia.html
LEVATOR SYNDROME (pelvic floor dysfunction) This condition is thought to be caused by spasms in the pelvic floor muscles. These muscle spasm results in ongoing vaginal pain that is often felt deep in the vagina or at the bladder. Stress, sexual intercourse, a full bladder, constipation or any of the many pelvic pain syndromes often exacerbates it. In addition to pain, the tightening of the pelvic floor (levator) muscles may make it difficult to pass urine and stool.
ENDOMETRIOSIS This condition often results in either constant pain or more commonly pain that fluctuates with the menstrual cycle. It is believed to be caused by abnormal deposits of endometrium (the hormone sensitive lining of the uterus) throughout the pelvis. The endometrial tissue may even deposit in the bladder and cause you to have blood in your urine at the time of your period.
Helpful links: http://www.endometriosis.org/endometriosis.html
URETHRITIS / URETHRAL SYNDROME Pain that originates from the urethra- often results in burning during urination and sexual intercourse. Again, the symptoms may be similar to those of a UTI however the urine culture is negative.
Helpful links: http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic3081.htm
URETHRAL DIVERTICULUM The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of your body. A diverticulum is an out pouching or a pocket that forms in the urethra. It may present as a firm mass protruding from the vagina. It is associated with causing pain during sexual intercourse, recurrent UTIs and dribbling urine when you stand after urinating (post void dribbling). If they are symptomatic that may be treated surgically. In many cases they found during a gynecological exam and otherwise do not cause any symptoms- these can be left alone.