If you've recently been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (IC), a urogynecological condition that results in bladder pain, abdominal pain, painful intercourse, frequent urination, and host of other side effects, you have likely been given advice about restricting your diet, as well as information about medications available for you. Those often have excellent effects, but they don't work for everyone in the same way. Plus, if you slip up, you could end up with more pain. In addition to following your diet and taking your medication, you may want to try these three coping strategies to help you lessen pain and lead a more normal life.
Stress appears to be a large factor in IC flare-ups, which is not surprising given stress' ability to cause abdominal pain in general. That's not to say you're imagining your pain; on the contrary, even pain from stress is very real. But if you're having pain that's been diagnosed as IC, look at everything and everyone in your life that could be causing chronic stress for you.
For example, if you're dealing with a bad job situation, take what steps you can immediately to soothe the situation (such as requesting to be moved away from a troublesome co-worker). Keep working on the situation to get rid of as much of the chronic stress as you can. Even getting counseling to help you deal with stress can be helpful.
Drinking More Water
If the flare-up pain you're having is due to a food or liquid, try drinking more water. The logic is that the extra water will help your body wash out any substances from the food that may be aggravating your condition. While this will mean you'll have to stay close to a bathroom for a while, it could result in the pain ending more quickly.
Getting Specialized Acupuncture
Acupuncture as a coping strategy or treatment for IC can be hit or miss. Because it can work for some, it's worth trying to see if you're one of the people who would benefit from it. If you appear not to benefit from traditional acupuncture, don't give up yet; look for clinics and research centers offering a specialized, concentrated form of acupuncture that targets pelvic pain. In 2015, KSAT reported on an experimental form of acupuncture that appeared to have very good effects on people with different types of pelvic pain. The treatments in KSAT's report were being tested at Chicago's Loyola University Medical Center, but it's worth talking to your gynecologist about finding another center that offers the treatments if you don't live near Chicago.
If you have other questions about IC or want to investigate other coping strategies, talk to your gynecologist. Seek out support groups as well because these groups can help you deal with the oddities of a frustrating condition.