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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Overactive bladder and pain when urinating... interstitial cystitis?

    I have always had an overactive bladder… lately I have noticed pain while urinating but I suspect it could be a UTI. How do I know if it is interstitial cystitis?
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    Dr Tom Jarvis is a specialist urologist. He has international fellowship training in voiding dysfunction, pelvic floor reconstruction and female urology. He has special interests … View Profile

    You are right: the most common cause of painful urination (called "dysuria") is a urinary tract infection (UTI). Other common causes are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or vaginal infections. 

    A few uncommon causes are:

    • Stones in the urinary tract (bladder, ureters or kidney),
    • Irritation of the urethra from sexual activity,
    • Interstitial cystitis,
    • Vaginal changes related to menopause,
    • Activities such as horseback riding or bicycling,
    • Vaginal sensitivity or irritation related to use of scented soaps or bubble bath, toilet paper, or other products such as douches or spermicides,
    • Side effects from certain medications, supplements and treatments, and
    • Tumours of the urinary tract.

    The best thing to do is see your local doctor for an assessment and examination. They are likely to want to check your urine. If you have a UTI and it is successfully treated, your painful symptoms are likely to go away. 

    Intersitital cystitis is relatively rare. It won't generally improve with antibiotics. Treatment for interstitial cystitis (also known as chronic painful bladder syndrome (CPBS) is complex. Your local doctor will likely refer you to a specialist urologist for further assessment and treatment.

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