Balance Life Q and A with Dr Elise Schroeder: A Case of Interstitial Cystitis

Have you heard of bioidentical hormones helping someone with severe bladder pain? My condition has been diagnosed as Interstitial Cystitis.  I have had symptoms for 13 years.  It started right after I had my youngest daughter. My hormones are a wreck, and I can’t seem to get any help. My life is upside down because of my pain.  The pain seems to go with my cycle. Please help.

Urinary issues are a common problem in perimenopause and menopause.  Women may experience urgency, frequency, pain, urinary infections, and incontinence.  Interstitial cystitis used to be considered a condition that affected mainly menopausal women, but recent statistics show that younger women and men are also being diagnosed with it.

In women, hormone changes, whether during childbearing years or in the perimenopausal years, do seem to worsen symptoms of IC.  However, in perimenopause, there are some normal physiological changes to the bladder that occur in response to the decline in estrogens worth noting:

  • The muscles in the bladder, urethra and vagina lose tone and strength.
  • There is an increased sensitivity to pain in the urinary tract due to nerve and blood vessel changes.
  • Vaginal and urinary tissues become more dry and thin, creating a susceptibility to inflammation and infection.

Since hormone changes seem to have some effect on IC occurrence and severity, some women will benefit from hormone balancing treatments.  It is important to balance hormones correctly, and in order to do that, hormones should be tested prior to initiating treatment.

One very effective treatment for vaginal dryness is vaginal estriol cream.  It is frequently used about three times a week to resolve this issue.  Other common treatments are vaginal DHEA and testosterone.  All three hormones play a role in supporting the health of both vaginal and urinary tissue.

You might consider finding a health care provider who is an expert in bio identical hormone replacement and consult with her or him to find the best hormone treatment for you.  You can find a provider by using the Women In Balance Institute’s provider locator tool here: http://providers.womeninbalance.org/