Endometriosis and interstitial cystitis have similar symptoms. Both conditions can be challenging to diagnose, and some patients are misdiagnosed with one, the other, or both.
Additionally, studies show that women with endometriosis are up to four times more likely to develop interstitial cystitis. But what is the connection between these two painful and disruptive conditions?
First, let’s review what endometriosis and interstitial cystitis are.
Endometriosis is a reproductive health issue that causes endometrial tissue to form outside of the uterus, leading to painful adhesions.
Interstitial cystitis is an immune system dysfunction that denudes the protective coating of the bladder, allowing urine to irritate the bladder.
Both conditions cause disruptive symptoms, including:
- Pelvic pain
- Tenderness and trigger points in the abdomen
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Pain in the low back, hips, groin, and tailbone
- Painful intercourse
- Urinary urgency and incontinence
The conditions are so similar and co-occur so frequently that you might hear them referred to as the “evil twins” of pelvic pain.
Why is it challenging to tell the difference between endometriosis and interstitial cystitis?
There are a few reasons why endometriosis and interstitial cystitis are hard to differentiate.
Endometriosis and bladder pain
Endometriosis can affect your bladder, with endometrial adhesions forming on the inner or outer walls of your bladder. The growths swell and bleed, just like the endometrial tissue that lines your uterus, but your bladder and other organs aren’t built to shed those cells.
This leads to inflammation and scar and adhesion formation. As a result, endometriosis’s effect on the bladder can become quite painful and disruptive.
Endometriosis can also cause urinary pain, another hallmark sign of interstitial cystitis.
Your period can make interstitial cystitis worse
In addition to all this, interstitial cystitis can flare up around your period. It’s tempting to assume that all pelvic pain around your period is due to your menstrual cycle, which can lead to interstitial cystitis going undiagnosed.
There may be a connection between estrogen at certain points during your cycle and painful inflammation in your bladder.
Interstitial cystitis is challenging to diagnose
Diagnosing interstitial cystitis is a process of elimination. Your physician may use urinalysis, physical exams, and voiding diaries to evaluate your bladder health before ordering ultrasounds, cystoscopy, or urodynamic testing.
They have to rule out all other issues that could be causing your symptoms before confirming interstitial cystitis.
And so is endometriosis
Here at Maiden Lane Medical, our endometriosis experts have years of experience in diagnosing and treating endometriosis, so we get to the root cause of your symptoms quickly.
However, like interstitial cystitis, there isn’t a single test to confirm your diagnosis.
With endometriosis, we can use a very well-done history and physicals as well as ultrasound and MRI, but ultimately, laparoscopic surgery is the only way to be sure that any abnormal tissue and pain are due to endometriosis.
Treating endometriosis and interstitial cystitis
With both endometriosis and interstitial cystitis, lifestyle adjustments and medication to ease your symptoms are the first-line treatment approach.
Many patients find that keeping track of what they eat and drink and comparing it to their interstitial cystitis symptoms helps them identify which foods make their pain more intense.
While this is it for interstitial cystitis, we offer state-of-the-art minimally invasive laparoscopic radical resection procedures to remove the endometriosis adhesions and scar tissue while leaving your reproductive — and other pelvic — organs intact.
If you live with chronic pelvic pain, whether it’s constant or comes and goes, call Maiden Lane Medical or schedule a consultation online today.
We want to find and resolve the root cause of your pain and provide lasting relief and improved health.