Interstitial Cystitis & Your Sex Life

          There is an unspoken horror out there not many people know about, but for those of us affected, words could not even begin to describe it, anyway. It goes by the name of Interstitial Cystitis, or IC for short. IC is, well, still somewhat of a mystery to the medical field. It’s characterized by frequent pain in the bladder, a constant urge to pee although you’ve already tried to eight million times, and just general miserableness. There is no set cure, just various things we all try to try and ease the pain. My journey with IC began in my teenage years around the age of fifteen. It started with frequent bladder infections. Azo was my best friend. I found myself in a local urologist’s office where I was advised to drink more water. For about a year or two it went into recession, and boy, did I take that time for granted. 

               At age eighteen it came back with a vengeance. However, I tested negative for UTIs every time. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, and neither did my doctors. They pushed antibiotic infection on me, despite the fact that there was no infection. So naturally the pain didn’t stop. Then, my urologist tells me I have an overactive bladder. This leads to me trying about three to five different OA bladder medicines, but once again, no success. Finally my urologist decides to run a cyscopy to attempt to get a better understanding of just what in the world is going on. He attempted to do it in office, but once the nurse tried to numb my urethra by sticking a q-tip in it I knew I could not endure that pain any further and ended up leaving that office in tears with a new appointment at the hospital under anesthesia. I had a full blown panic attack the pain was so bad. 
He tells me that he can’t find anything wrong except for the fact that my urethra is too small so he filled it with water and let it sit so that it would stretch. This left me in exscruciating pain for a week, then magically everything was normal and dandy the following week. By the third week I was back in bladder purgatory. He left out the part where it was only a temporary fix. By this point I’m tired of him and so I decide to find a new urologist. 
           Well, three doctors later I finally find my dream urologist (no, it’s not overactive bladder!) he tells me I have IC. With his help I’ve been lucky enough to get it under control, though the pain is never fully gone. From this pain comes suffering between not only me, but both my husband and I. Our sex life is nonexistent. During one year of our marriage we had sex a total of three times. You read that right. Truth be told, it hasn’t got much better, but any improvement is welcome. 
          It’s unbearable watching your husband cry and ask you what’s wrong with him. I felt so defeated. Of course he felt unwanted. I wasn’t able to show him just how much I truly adored him. He is the sexiest man alive to me, but without being able to show him, he felt like I was lying. I felt worthless. Why couldn’t I have a working body? What if he left me for someone better? I would be lying if I said that to this day that fear isn’t still there. For those of you out there like me, you are not alone. I know it feels like an uphill battle, but there are drugs out there that work. Some people swear by therapy, others by acupuncture. It just depends on the person, but everything is worth trying.

           And to the husbands and wives out there of those with IC, please don’t give up. I know it’s hard. We aren’t the only ones suffering. I know you are too. It’s not that you’re not enough. You are exceptional. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for just being you, the people we fell in love with. You make those painful moments a little less insufferable. Thank you for loving us for who we are, flaws and all.