By: Robert J. Evans III, MD, FACS | Posted on: 28 Nov 2016
Try to relieve as much stress as you can if Interstitial Cystitis (IC) pain is getting you down.
Stress does not cause IC, but if you have IC, stress can cause a flare. Physical stress and mental stress can lead to flares. Remember, every flare will settle down and worrying about it only prolongs the discomfort.
Understanding stress and how to minimize it is the best way to limit the intensity of your flares. Defusing stress can make a major difference in your pain levels. Here are 7 tips for dealing with IC symptoms:
- Take a hot bath. A long soak in the tub eases stress and can relax pelvic muscles and decrease pelvic floor pain. Don't use any irritating bath products as some can cause vaginal irritation.
- Get moving. Gentle exercise can do a world of good when you're stressed. Exercise can release endorphins, which are like nature's painkillers. Be careful to not place pressure on the bladder as vigorous exercise can backfire and make symptoms worse. Long walks are great.
Swimming and water aerobics are terrific because the bladder feels nicely supported when you're in the pool. If you do any water exercise make sure to shower as soon as possible to remove chlorine as it can sometimes cause vaginal irritation. Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are great because they can stretch out tight pelvic muscles while lowering mental stress at the same time.
- Pet a dog. Studies have shown that people who interact regularly with a pet have a lot less stress.
- Have a massage. A gentle massage is a great stress reliever. Make sure the masseuse knows you have IC so they keep it gentle and relaxing. Avoid getting a "deep-tissue" massage because it might be too painful.
- Work on your spiritual side. Many patients report that meditation, prayer or Bible study really helps them cope with the stress of IC.
- Take a time out. Find time every day for yourself. Turn off the electronics and simply take time to take care of yourself. You might want to listen to music or relaxation tapes, if that will help you get away from the everyday worries that are causing your stress.
- Talk to a counselor. Even if they don't know a lot about IC they will know a lot about stress management and coping skills.