The key difference between interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia is that interstitial cystitis is a condition due to the inflammation or irritation of the bladder wall, while vulvodynia is a condition due to the inflammation of the vulva.
Interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia are two chronic pain syndromes. Both these conditions are due to inflammation in certain parts of the body. In chronic pain syndrome, the pain can last for months. It affects some 25 million Americans. Moreover, these medical conditions are normally treated by specific medications and therapies.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Interstitial Cystitis
3. What is Vulvodynia
4. Similarities – Interstitial Cystitis and Vulvodynia
5. Interstitial Cystitis vs Vulvodynia in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Interstitial Cystitis vs Vulvodynia
What is Interstitial Cystitis?
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is also known as painful bladder syndrome. It is a condition due to an inflamed or irritated bladder wall. This condition ultimately may lead to scarring and stiffening of the bladder. Moreover, in interstitial cystitis, the bladder cannot hold as much urine as it did in the past. The exact cause of interstitial cystitis is not known, but it is believed this condition is caused by a defect in the epithelium, such as leakage in the bladder. This leakage may allow toxic substances in urine to irritate the bladder wall. Other contributing factors may include autoimmune reactions, heredity, infection, or allergy.
The signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis are pain in the pelvis, pain between the vagina and anus in women, pain between the scrotum and anus in men, chronic pelvic pain, frequent urgent need to urinate, discomfort while the bladder fills, and relief after urinating and pain during the sex. The risk factors for interstitial cystitis include gender (women affected more), age (older people affected frequently), colouring (those with red hair and fair skin), and chronic pain-causing conditions such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel disease.
Interstitial cystitis can be diagnosed through urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, bladder wall biopsy, and laboratory examination of prostate secretions. Furthermore, interstitial cystitis is treated through bladder enlargement, bladder wash, anti-inflammatory medications, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), bladder training, surgery, and diet changes.
What is Vulvodynia?
Vulvodynia is the inflammation of the vulva in female genitalia. This condition results in chronic pain around the opening of the vagina or vulva for at least three months without identifiable cause. The symptoms of this condition may include pain, burning, soreness, stinging, rawness in the genital area, painful intercourse, throbbing, and itching in the genital region. Doctors do not know the exact cause of vulvodynia. But possible contributing factors are irritation of the nerves surrounding the vulva, past vaginal infections, allergies, hormonal changes, and muscle spasms in the pelvic floor. Moreover, the risk factors for vulvodynia include sleep disturbances, the presence of other comorbid pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and temporomandibular and psychological disorders such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Vulvodynia can be diagnosed through pelvic examination and cotton swab test. Furthermore, vulvodynia is treated through medications (steroids, tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants, and antihistamines), biofeedback therapy, local anesthetics, nerve blocks, pelvic floor therapy, and surgery (vestibulectomy).
What are the Similarities Between Interstitial Cystitis and Vulvodynia?
- Interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia are two chronic pain syndromes.
- Both conditions are chronic, and they are due to inflammation in certain parts of the body.
- These conditions can be seen in women.
- Both conditions can be treated through clinical examination and laboratory testing.
- They are treated through specific medications, therapies, and surgeries.
What is the Difference Between Interstitial Cystitis and Vulvodynia?
Interstitial cystitis is a condition due to inflammation or irritation of the bladder wall, while vulvodynia is a condition due to inflammation of the vulva. Thus, this is the key difference between interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia. Furthermore, interstitial cystitis is seen in both men and women, while vulvodynia is seen only in women.
The infographic below presents the differences between interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Interstitial Cystitis vs Vulvodynia
Approximately about 25% of people with chronic pain will ultimately have a condition called chronic pain syndrome. People who suffer from chronic pain syndrome have pain that lasts at least for 3 to 6 months. Interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia are two chronic pain syndromes. Interstitial cystitis is a condition that results in chronic bladder pressure, bladder pain, and pelvic pain, while vulvodynia is a condition that results in chronic pain or discomfort around the vulva. So, this summarizes the difference between interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia.
1. “Vulvodynia.” Mayo Clinic.
2. “Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder): Causes & Symptoms.” Cleveland Clinic.
1. “2605 The Bladder” By OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site, Jun 19, 2013. (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Causes of vulvodynia” By Klaus Cort at English Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia