Having pain in the lower abdomen can be one of the hard realities being a woman. After all, you get pain in your stomach once a month for most of your life. But when that pain is intense and is happening outside of your regular menstrual cycle, it can be pretty scary. Awareness of endometriosis is up, and more people now know about this painful problem. But it’s not always endometriosis. Have you got something known as IC instead?
The symptoms of endometriosis are pretty similar to the symptoms you’ll experience during a normal period, only more intense. You may also notice spotting or bleeding between periods and pain in your stomach outside of your period. Often, this pain comes as a stabbing or throbbing feeling. You may also experience pain during intercourse and pain during urination. But all of these symptoms can also be caused by something that’s even rarer than endometriosis, and much harder to diagnose: IC.
Interstitial cystitis, abbreviated as IC and also known as painful bladder syndrome, is not curable. It can be an extremely painful condition, but the symptoms can be regulated through diet, medication and lifestyle changes. IC causes stomach pain, as well as pain during intercourse and painful urination. IC changes the way your bladder functions. The bladder is never able to fully empty and it holds about half as much liquid as a normal, healthy bladder. This causes frequent urination; sometimes, as much as 60 times per day in severe cases. If you have urinary pain that lasts for more than 6 weeks and is not caused by other conditions like infection or kidney stones, you may have IC.
Pay attention to what you’re eating and drinking, and your mood, and start noticing when you experience the most stomach pain. IC symptoms are aggravated by acidic food and drinks, and they are also aggravated by stress. If you notice severe stomach pain after eating or drinking, or the pain becomes worse with stress, consult with a doctor about the possibility that you have IC.
What Are the Odds?
One in 10 women in the U.S. suffers from endometriosis, though many of these cases actually go undiagnosed. That equates to about 10 to 20 percent of women in America who have endometriosis.
An estimated 3 to 6 percent of women in the U.S. suffer from IC, which makes this a rare condition. Because the symptoms of IC mirror many other conditions, it’s extremely difficult to diagnose. In fact, only a few physicians are capable of making the diagnosis for IC.
Answering the Question
You will need to have a series of tests first to rule out other problems, and then to determine whether you have IC. This will include a urinalysis. You will also need to have a urine volume test done to conclusively determine whether or not you have IC. This test measures the urine in your bladder.
Some gynecologists can diagnose IC, but try to find a urogynecologist if you can. This is a highly specialized branch of medicine, and it’s not always easy to find physicians in this field. However, this is the most qualified professional to determine whether or not you have IC.