A frequent need to urinate; pelvic pain
Ask your doctor about interstitial cystitis (IC)
You have the telltale signs of a urinary tract infection, yet no amount of antibiotics seems to do any good. Sound familiar? You may be one of the million Americans suffering from IC (also called painful bladder syndrome). "This condition may be caused by a small hole in the protective lining of the bladder that allows toxic substances in urine to seep out and irritate the outside of the bladder," says Kristene Whitmore, M.D., chief of urology at the Drexel College of Medicine. A urologist can perform a cytoscopy, a procedure that uses a tiny camera to examine the inside of your bladder for IC-related hemorrhages.
WHAT CAN HELP
Unfortunately, there's no simple cure for IC; most sufferers try a combination of treatments. Antidepressants can soothe the inflamed bladder wall, while Elmiron—the only oral pill approved for IC—can help it heal. And the latest research shows that the anti-wrinkle treatment Botox is also effective: Two studies found that an injection of this muscle-relaxing filler in the bladder reduced pain and urinary frequency for up to six months.
Physical therapy and biofeedback, in which a computer monitors your vaginal contractions, can help you learn how to relax your vaginal muscles during spasms.