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Difference Between Interstitial Cystitis and Vulvodynia

From the standpoints of embryology, pathology, and epidemiology, interstitial cystitis/bladder pain disorder (IC/BPS) and vulvodynia appear to be associated with chronic pain disorders. We researched a comprehensive assessment of the literature to identify the difference between interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia as well as other diseases. The symptoms of interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia are hard to identify in women from those of painful bladder syndrome, and they appear to coincide with those of urinary tract infection, chronic urethral syndrome, overactive bladder, vulvodynia, and endometriosis.

This has complicated the formulation of a case definition for interstitial cystitis, as well as the treatment and evaluation of its impact on women’s lives. Interstitial cystitis (IC) symptoms vary from person to person and may even vary within the same person. Some people have milder conditions that have little impact on their lives. Some people experience intermittent symptoms that fluctuate from day to day, week after week, or month-to-month. Others get severe IC both during the day and at night.

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Pelvic Pain Causes: Vulvodynia and Interstitial Cystitis

Although one in every seven women in the United States experiences persistent pelvic pain, the true causes are frequently untreated. According to surveys, around 15% of working women miss work because of pelvic discomfort, and almost half feel it has a negative impact on their productivity. Although the etiology of pelvic discomfort can vary considerably and is sometimes difficult to identify, some practitioners believe vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis are frequently overlooked factors. So in this article, we are going to discuss the difference between Interstitial Cystitis and Vulvodynia.

A presentation during the 15th Annual Conference of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH) in Orlando, Florida, featured insights on vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis, as well as practical suggestions on how to identify and manage patients with both disorders. Susan Hoffstetter of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri described her presentation in an email interview with Medscape Medical News. keep reading this article to understand the difference between Interstitial Cystitis and Vulvodynia.

Is there a connection between interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia?

An unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, or discomfort considered being connected to the urine bladder) combined with lower urinary tract symptoms lasting over 6 weeks is described as interstitial cystitis. Importantly, these symptoms occur in the absence of illness or other recognised reasons. Furthermore, IC and vulvodynia can have a negative influence on sexual function and lower one’s quality of life. Unfortunately, vulvodynia goes unnoticed since it is not part of the standard urological examination for IC patients.

It is considered that vulvodynia and interstitial cystitis have some overlapping. According to research, the rate of concurrent interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia ranges from 12 percent to 68 percent. Interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia are both urogenital sinus disorders characterized by pelvic-floor muscular weakness, inflammatory changes with mast cell activation, increased angiogenesis, and neural hyperplasia.

What are the first signs of vulvodynia?

Vulvodynia discomfort is most commonly described by women as a burning or stinging feeling, soreness, rawness, or irritation. Some even call it a “sliced glass” sensation. Others describe it as a scorching, throbbing, ripping, or stabbing pain.
Women frequently present with dyspareunia or tampon insertion discomfort. These women can be highly apprehensive during well-woman tests and experience discomfort with speculum insertion.

Women with vulvodynia symptoms frequently avoid activities that cause or increase the discomfort, such as extended sitting, riding, walking, or even wearing jeans or tight workout clothing or underwear.

What is the prevalence of vulvodynia?

The frequency ranges from 3% to 18% of reproductive-age women, with onset most typically between the ages of 18 and 25. Unfortunately, 60 percent of symptomatic women require an average of three separate physicians to be diagnosed with vulvodynia, and 40 percent of symptomatic women go untreated. It does not appear to be a race difference; white, Hispanic, and black women all have identical rates of incidence.

Is it possible to identify risk factors?

Because we don’t know what causes vulvodynia, there are a variety of risk factors. As a result, allergies, early sexual maturity and coitus, nulliparity, childhood enuresis, physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, chronic skin illnesses, and bad life events all play a part (divorce, pregnancy termination, difficult childbirth).

Some believe that oral contraceptives have a role because they induce estrogen receptors to downregulate, leading the vestibular epithelium to be thin, fragile, and susceptible. However, research has yet to substantiate this link. In women with vulvodynia, there is a link between oral contraceptive usage and greater pain perception.

What are the first stages in diagnosing vulvodynia in a patient?

Your ears are the finest diagnostic tool for vulvodynia; listen to what your patient is saying! Include any associations between the beginning or worsening of symptoms and life events/stressors, changes in medical status, surgeries, and hormonal changes, such as delivery, breastfeeding, and menopause, in the patient’s medical history. Infection, inflammatory processes, and vulvar dystrophies should all be evaluated during a physical examination.

Vulvodynia can affect the whole vulva or only the vestibule. In order to get an accurate diagnosis of vulvodynia, Q-Tip testing is required. Take note of any sensations at the Skene and Bartholin glands on the vulva or in the vestibule.

Use a 0-to-10 rating system, with 0 showing no pain or symptoms and 10 indicating the most severe pain or symptoms. Q-Tip testing is useful as an objective assessment of the amount of pain (and ultimately healing) over time if vulvodynia is diagnosed. After all other reasons have been checked out and symptoms have been present for at least 6 months, vulvodynia is diagnosed as an exclusionary diagnosis.