Dear Dr. Kate,
I've been having this recurring problem that my OB/GYN and primary doctor can't seem to figure out. I started feeling like I have early symptoms of a UTI two months ago (I've had a few so I'm familiar with the symptoms). I have an urge to urinate but I don't have pain and sometimes it even goes away if I force myself to go less often, or avoid caffeine. Eventually it stops but then it seems to start again. When my symptoms started I went to my OB/GYN for a UTI test, which showed only an elevation in white blood cells, I took antibiotics and felt better for a while. I know that I don't have an STD, and it doesn't feel like a typical UTI. This has been not only a problem because I am uncomfortable but it also can make sex uncomfortable and even painful. My doctor doesn't seem to have an answer. Any ideas?
Thanks so much,
It sounds like you may have interstitial cystitis, a diagnosis many doctors don't initially think about. IC is basically inflammation of the bladder that gives you all the signs of a UTI but there's no infection present. Bladder pressure, pain, and burning, along with the constant urge to pee, are the most common symptoms. It's a fairly common cause of chronic pelvic pain as well, affecting almost one million women.
You may want to see a urologist - they're the best equipped to do bladder testing and give you a definite diagnosis. Testing may include a potassium sensitivity test (through a slim catheter placed into your bladder) or cystoscopy (where the doctor can actually look inside your bladder through a skinny camera). Treatments vary from oral medications to actual treatment of your bladder, and depends on how severe your symptoms are. But once IC starts to intefere with your quality of life - which sounds like where you are - it's time to get help.
Best of health,