Painful bladder syndrome – how pelvic pain when peeing can be treated

Written by: Mr Rajesh Kavia
Published: | Updated: 03/03/2020
Edited by: Jay Staniland

Painful bladder syndrome, sometimes known as interstitial cystitis, is a condition that causes pain in the pelvis and when urinating. The pain can come in the form of mild discomfort, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Painful bladder is a chronic condition, meaning that it lasts for a long time.


What are the symptoms of painful bladder syndrome?


Painful bladder syndrome can present differently in different patients, and at different times as the condition develops. Other factors may also have an impact on the symptoms you experience, such as menstruation, stress, physical activity, sexual activity, and sitting for a long period of time.

The most common symptoms include:

  • pain in the pelvis
  • pain below the belly button
  • pain between the anus and scrotum in men or vagina in women
  • a persistent need to pee
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • needing to pee more frequently than usual
  • waking up to go to the toilet a lot of times during the night

What causes painful bladder syndrome?


The cause of painful bladder syndrome isn’t fully understood. There are likely to be a number of factors which contribute to the condition. Some studies believe it is related to a defect in the lining of the bladder, while others think it is related to allergy, infection, or that it is a genetic condition.

Some people are more at risk of painful bladder syndrome than others:

  • The condition is more frequently found in women than in men.
  • People with a fair complexion, with light skin and red hair have a higher risk of contracting the condition.
  • It is more common in people over the age of 30.
  • People suffering with other pain disorders such as fibromyalgia or irritable bowel syndrome may be more at risk of the condition.

How is painful bladder syndrome treated?


There is no single treatment for painful bladder syndrome. A specialist will most likely prescribe a mixture of medication and physical therapy to help manage the condition and its symptoms.

A physical therapist can help with relieving the pelvic pain and tenderness associated with the condition, while medication can help to relieve the pain and relax the bladder.


Cystoscopy and hydrodistention


This is a short procedure whereby a camera is inserted into the bladder to assess and ensure that there are no abnormalities present. The bladder is then stretched and this process can reduce the pain, particularly if combined with bladder instillations.


Bladder instillations


Medications that can be directly inserted into the bladder, the aim is to repair the lining of the bladder, and can be administered on a weekly basis, for a cycle of six weeks.


Botox injections


There is evidence that Botox can help with chronic pain and also the frequency and incontinence sometimes associated with painful bladder syndrome. The procedure is performed under local or general anaesthetic and can give relief for up to 6 – 9 months.


Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)


TENS uses electrical impulses from wires placed near the lower back, or near the pubic area. The electrical impulses work by increasing blood flow to this area and strengthening muscles, which in turn can relieve pain and reduce the symptoms of urinary frequency.

If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned here, or already have a diagnosis of painful bladder syndrome and would like to see a specialist, you can make an appointment here.

By Mr Rajesh Kavia

Mr Rajesh Kavia is a highly revered, trained, skilled and experienced leading London-based consultant urological surgeon, who specialises in areas such as urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection, prostate-related conditions, as well as general paediatric urology. He possesses a special interest in functional urology and incontinence in males and females.

The trusted Mr Kavia treats all manner of urological problems from his private clinics across London, and was the first surgeon within the M25 to perform the Urolift procedure to treat benign prostate obstruction, using minimally invasive surgical techniques. He has specialist knowledge and expertise in relation to the treatment, diagnosis and management of prostate and bladder conditions, chronic urological pain, erectile dysfunction, circumcisions, as well as endoscopic stone management

The highly qualified doctor graduated from the esteemed Imperial College London (University of London) in 1999, impressively achieving mutliple distinctions in his MBBS. He then underwent his medical training at the prestigious Charing Cross & Westminster Medical School, prior to starting out on his research journey at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. 

Mr Kavia has undertaken extensive research specifically focusing on a number of urological conditions, such as being the lead author on a multinational trial of cannabis for multiple sclerosis-related overactive bladder syndrome, and in painful bladder syndrome at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Alongside his clinical and research work, Mr Kavia dedicates time to teaching junior doctors, and is a course director and examiner for higher surgical trainees. He has, to-date, also published a substantial amount of articles in peer-reviewed medical journals.

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.