If you’re pregnant and have interstitial cystitis, it’s fair to wonder if the condition can affect your baby. Here is what you need to know.
Interstitial cystitis is also commonly known as IC. It differs from the more common form of cystitis, which is a regular Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) caused by bacteria. Interstitial cystitis is chronic and causes recurring pain in the bladder and pelvic region. Unlike UTI, it cannot be treated with antibiotics.
What Are the Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis?
Women who are at least 40 years of age suffer from IC more often than anyone else. The symptoms of the condition vary depending on each individual person. Some symptoms may present themselves and suddenly disappear. Unfortunately, those symptoms can reappear at any time.
The pain associated with interstitial cystitis can range from very minor to intense pain that seems constant. Pain and tenderness in the bladder and pelvic region are the most common symptoms. Additional symptoms include the following:
- Urgency to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Pain fluctuating in intensity as the bladder fills up or empties out
- Irritation, scarring or stiffness of the bladder wall
- Bleeding caused by irritation on the bladder wall or glomerulations
- Ulcers on the bladder wall
- Painful intercourse or other sexual activity
How Is IC Diagnosed?
Getting an interstitial cystitis diagnosis can be challenging due to other medical conditions, that share many of the same symptoms. Usually, doctors diagnose it based on ruling out other conditions. The following diagnostic tools are used to rule out those conditions to effectively diagnose IC:
- Urinalysis: A sample of your urine is studied to check whether there is bacteria or blood or if there are kidney stones present.
- Urine culture: A urine sample is studied to see whether there is a bacteria present.
- Cystoscopy with hydrodistention: This test is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia to detect interstitial cystitis. The doctor checks the bladder directly by using a small, flexible tube. The bladder is stretched with water, which gives the doctor a better chance to examine the bladder for glomerulations, a symptom that’s present in 95% of people with IC.
Is Pregnancy Safe with Interstitial Cystitis?
A woman who has been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis may wonder whether it’s safe to get pregnant. No doubt, you might have many questions in mind, including whether your baby may be harmed. Fortunately, if you have IC, you can still successfully conceive and deliver a beautiful, healthy baby.
In 1989, there was a study performed that involved 48 women with interstitial cystitis who were pregnant. The women were observed and were asked to rate the severity of their symptoms during the course of their pregnancies and after they gave birth. The research determined the following results based on three groups having mild, moderate or severe symptoms before they conceived:
- Most of the women had moderate symptoms before they got pregnant. Their symptoms increased slightly during their pregnancies and peaked by the third trimester but didn’t worsen in intensity.
- Women who experienced mild interstitial cystitis symptoms before getting pregnant experienced slightly worse symptoms as their pregnancies progressed.
- Women who had severe symptoms before becoming pregnant reported experiencing an improvement in those symptoms except during their third trimester.
Women with interstitial cystitis who wish to conceive or who are already pregnant should drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. In general, pregnant women need more water than the average, but it’s essential to stay hydrated to avoid constipation, which can exacerbate your interstitial cystitis symptoms.
Medication Use During Pregnancy to Control Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms
It’s urged to avoid taking medication to keep your interstitial cystitis symptoms under control while pregnant. Certain therapies carry a risk of causing abnormalities in the fetus. While it may not be widely known what can occur, the best thing you can do to keep your baby safe is to speak with your OB/GYN about your options. You may be steered toward other, safe alternatives for managing your symptoms that don’t involve medication or potentially harmful supplements. A change in diet and/or physiotherapy can often be helpful to relieve the symptoms and strengthen the pelvic floor.
Can You Pass IC on to Your Baby?
In 2001, there was an indication that interstitial cystitis can be genetically inherited. A survey was given to Americans with interstitial cystitis that revealed that around 1.5% of their family members also developed the condition. Another 12% of family members were believed to possibly have it as well. These things indicate that there may be a genetic link.
Although there’s no cure for interstitial cystitis as of now, you can still have a healthy pregnancy and baby.