Interstitial Cystitis/Vulvodynia (pronounced in-tur-STI-shul sis-TY-tis), also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), is a chronic, oftentimes painful, inflammatory condition of the bladder. Its cause is unknown. Unlike cystitis or a urinary tract infection (UTI), IC is believed not to be caused by bacteria and does not respond to conventional antibiotic therapy.

Some or all of these symptoms may be present:

PAIN: Can be in the lower abdominal, urethral, or vaginal area. Pain is also frequently associated with sexual intercourse, even for days after. Men with IC may experience testicular, scrotal, and/or perineal pain, and painful ejaculation.

FREQUENCY: Day and/or night frequency of urination, sometimes severe.

URGENCY: The sensation of having to urinate immediately, which may also be accompanied by pain, pressure, or spasms.

PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION (PFD): Some people with IC may have pelvic floor dysfunction in addition to IC. PFD is usually related to too much tension or “high-tone”—the opposite of the too-relaxed state or “low-tone” that contributes to incontinence—of the muscles that support the pelvic floor.

OTHER DISORDERS: Some people with IC also report muscle and joint pain, migraines, allergic reactions, and gastrointestinal problems, as well as symptoms of IC. Research indicates that IC has an as yet unexplained association with certain other chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, vulvar vestibulitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.  The word "vulvodynia" means "painful vulva." Your vulva consists of the pad of fatty tissue at the base of your abdomen (mons pubis), the labia, the clitoris and the opening of your vagina.

The main vulvodynia symptom is pain in your genital area, which can be characterized by burning, soreness, itching, stinging, rawness, painful intercourse (dyspareunia), or throbbing.  The pain you experience may be constant or intermittent and can last for months or even years, but can vanish as suddenly or mysteriously as it started.  A similar condition, vulvar vestibulitis, may cause pain only when pressure is applied to the area surrounding the entrance to the vagina.

Vulvar tissue may look minimally inflamed or swollen. More often, your vulva appears normal. Doctors don't know what causes vulvodynia, but contributing factors may include injury to or irritation of the nerves surrounding your vulvar region; past vaginal infections; allergies or a localized hypersensitivity of your skin; muscle spasms; changing estrogen levels that occur with menopause

Many women with vulvodynia have a history of treatment for recurrent vaginitis or vaginal yeast infections. Some women with the condition have a history of sexual abuse. Vulvodynia isn't sexually transmitted or a common sign of cancer.

For more information please see these Interstitial Cystititis/Vulvodynia resources:
Interstitial Cystitis Association https://www.ichelp.org/
Interstitial Cystitis Network  – http://www.ic-network.com/

The National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) -- http://www.nva.org/
The Mayo Clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vulvodynia/DS00159

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