Women’s Bladder Issues

 
There are several conditions affecting the bladder and urinary system that can range from inconvenient to dangerous. These include problems such as bladder pain syndrome, bladder cancer, urinary incontinence (overactive bladder), and urinary tract infections (UTI). You should see your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.
 
Bladder Pain Syndrome
 
Bladder Cancer
 
Urinary Incontinence
 
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
 
Resources
 
This condition is also known as interstitial cystitis. Its symptoms include: 
  • pain or pressure in the pelvic area/genitals which gets worse as your bladder fills
  • an urgency which makes you feel like you need to urinate right away, and/or often
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • bleeding in the bladder  
For women, the symptoms often get worse during menstrual periods.
 
Your doctor will first rule out other potential causes of your symptoms such as a UTI, bladder cancer, or endometriosis. There may be a urine test, cytoscope (a long thin tube with a light and a lens that a doctor uses to see inside your bladder), and/or biopsy to determine what your problem is.
 
There is no known cure for bladder pain syndrome. Multiple treatments are available, and they work differently for different people. These include:
  • behavior modification (including dietary changes)
  • prescription and nonprescription medications
  • nerve stimulation
  • surgery
Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth that can potentially cause sickness and/or death. Cancer of the bladder usually starts in the cells lining your bladder. This most common type of bladder cancer can usually be cured when discovered early, before it spreads beyond the bladder.
 
Exact causes of any cancer are usually unclear, but most bladder cancers probably develop as a response to toxins known as carcinogens. These can include:
  • cigarette smoke
  • chemicals called arylamines (most often encountered in certain manufacturing and printing industries)
  • radiation and/or chemotherapy administered for cervical cancer
  • chronic bladder infection
 
The symptoms associated with bladder cancer are also common with other bladder conditions such as easily treatable bladder infections, so it is important to see your doctor if you have any of the following, in order to determine the cause:
  • blood in your urine
  • pain when you urinate
  • urinating often or feeling like you have to (urgency)
  • urinary incontinence
 
Multiple tests may be done to determine the cause of bladder symptoms. These include:
  • abdominal CT scan (a type of imaging)
  • urinalysis
  • cytoscopy, in which the doctor inserts a small camera into your bladder
  • bladder biopsy (often performed during a cytoscopy)
 
Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer at the time it is detected.
 
Urinary incontinence, or overactive bladder, means leaking urine or having to urinate much more often than usual. Common causes in women are pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. The primary types are called urge incontinence and stress incontinence.
 
Depending on your type of incontinence and its cause, your doctor may treat your problem with methods such as behavior modification, medication, exercises, or surgery. 
 
(For further details see our urinary incontinence page.)
 
Bacteria can infect any part of your urinary tract, including bladder, ureters, or kidneys. Women are especially prone to UTI. Symptoms include needing to urinate often, and experiencing pain when you do so. You may also be feverish.
 
Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics and pain medication. It is important to have them diagnosed as quickly as possible, so that treatment to kill the bacteria is begun before they spread and make you much sicker. 
 
(For further details see our urinary tract infections page.)
 
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