Study Reveals That 12% of Women May Be At Risk; PBS Offers New Documentary on Interstitial Cystitis

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A little known but devastating disease will be the focus of an upcoming PBS Healthy Body, Healthy Mind episode. As recently as ten years ago, interstitial cystitis (IC) was considered a relatively rare condition of post-menopausal women. New research by Matt Rosenberg MD now suggests that up to 12% of women have typical warning signs of IC, including urinating six or more times a day, pelvic pain and nighttime frequency.

A little known but devastating disease will be the focus of an upcoming PBS documentary. Makers of “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind” interviewed Jill Osborne, President of the Interstitial Cystitis Network (ICN), and Melody Thomas Scott, Star of The Young & The Restless, for the season premiere of the series, scheduled for broadcast in March 2006.

As recently as ten years ago, interstitial cystitis (IC) was considered a relatively rare condition of post-menopausal women. New research by Matt Rosenberg MD now suggests that up to 12% of women have typical warning signs of IC, including urinating six or more times a day, pelvic pain and nighttime frequency.

Ms. Osborne offered “Our biggest barrier is diagnosis. IC feels like a bladder infection, yet no bacteria is found. It’s more like an injury to the bladder wall. Most IC patients have a very irritated, inflamed bladder lining and some have large, bleeding wounds (Hunner’s Ulcers).”

Healthy Body Health Mind producer Carlos Pagan offered, “Our goal was to develop a truly newsworthy program on the latest advances on interstitial cystitis. The recent breakthroughs in treatment offer new hope for patients living with chronic IC.” The show also features interviews with researchers Dr. C. L. Parsons (UC-San Diego) and Dr. Matt Rosenberg.

In addition to the classic symptoms of frequency and urgency, one early warning sign is discomfort with sexual relations. After intercourse, women may experience pelvic pain and discomfort that can last for days or weeks. Men with IC may experience searing pain at the moment of climax. Thus, maintaining healthy sexual relationships can be challenging, particularly in young adults.

Living with this hidden pelvic pain syndrome creates many obstacles. Young children with IC struggle to receive a diagnosis and may be denied pain care because of a mistaken perception that children don’t experience pain to the same degree that adults do. Students often can’t sit through class or exams without restroom access. Employees with IC may have to fight for restroom access. One woman was forbidden from using the restroom and told by her supervisor to wear a diaper and urinate in her pants while standing behind a cash register.

In recent years, the diagnosis and treatment of IC has become much easier. A simple survey (The PUF Questionnaire) can now be used to determine if the bladder is contributing to pelvic pain. This quick and reliable diagnostic tool can also prevent unnecessary surgeries. Earlier this month, an IC patient won a $2 million dollar judgment for the removal of her healthy uterus.

Therapies for IC include the use of rescue instillations, antihistamines, antidepressants, bladder coatings, as well as new, experimental therapies such as Botox. IC symptoms may be improved through a simple modification of diet to reduce foods and beverages that are irritating to the bladder. Despite popular perception, cranberry juice is not helpful and can provoke pain and discomfort in IC patients. Other irritants include coffees, teas, sodas, fruit juices and artificial sweeteners.

For additional information on interstitial cystitis, please visit the IC Network website or call 707.538.9442 for a free packet of information.

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Jill Osborne