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Bladder Spasm and UTI Symptoms Not Caused by Bacteria: What Worked for Me

Updated on April 4, 2017
Sherry Hewins profile image

I have always been interested in health issues and healing. This is my experience with bladder spasm and UTI symptoms.

Woman in pain
Woman in pain | Source

I Have to Pee all the Time, But I Don't Have an Infection

You go to the doctor with what you're sure is a bladder infection, only to find out it's not. A urinalysis shows that there is no bacteria present. So what now?

When I was in this situation, I found out that antibiotics don't help; in fact, they may make things worse. Often a doctor will prescribe antibiotics for UTI symptoms without performing a urinalysis, but that can be a mistake if you're actually dealing with a condition such as bladder spasm or, worse yet, interstitial cystitis. After what I have been through, I would recommend that you insist on a urinalysis before taking antibiotics for urinary symptoms.

Through research and trial and error, I found the things that worked for me. I now have been pain-free for over a year and a half, and I am not taking any medications.

Many women find themselves in a situation like the one I have described at some point in their lives. Their GP or gynecologist may not be very knowledgeable about it. Trying to get information about urinary symptoms that are not caused by bacteria and getting the appropriate treatment can be very frustrating.

Bladder Spasm

The urologist I went to called my problem "bladder spasm," and he took great pains to explain to me how difficult it is to find the cause and right treatment for symptoms like urinary frequency and urgency. He also said that many women have episodes of bladder spasm at some time in their lives, but recover from it completely.

I am not a medical professional. I am sharing my experience in the hope that it helps someone else who is going through this. Every person and every bladder is different. As my urologist pointed out, there are many things that can cause the same symptoms, and the cause of bladder pain can be hard to diagnose.

The Symptoms of Bladder Spasm

The most common symptoms of bladder spasm are:

  • Urinary frequency and urgency
  • Urethral burning
  • Pelvic pain

In my experience, most doctors, especially male doctors, do not perceive these symptoms in a female as a serious medical matter, certainly not an emergency. After all, your vital signs are all fine, an examination doesn't find anything amiss, nothing is showing up in your blood or urine. Therefore, you're fine.

It's easy to get overwhelmed and very emotional when this happens. You're extremely uncomfortable, it's very hard to get any sleep, and you're physically and emotionally frazzled. But try to get a grip on yourself.

If you show up at a doctors office in that condition, it will be even harder to be taken seriously. (In fact, when I showed up at the ER in tears, I was prescribed Xanax by a doctor who obviously thought I was just hysterical.) Also, the pain cycle can feed on itself, and the more emotionally worked up you get, the worse you may feel. Believe me, it will get better.

Bladder First Aid

I'll get into more details later, but if you are suffering right now, this is what I would do:

  • Drink Baking Soda Mixed With Water - The first line of defense for me is to drink 1/4 tsp of baking soda (do not exceed two teaspoons of baking soda a day) dissolved in a small amount of water. This neutralizes the acid in your urine. I started feeling better within 10 minutes. I read about it in a book, and it helped me much more than anything any of the doctors I had been going to for months had.
  • Take a Hot Bath - I found a soaking in a hot tub to be very palliative.
  • Relax your Pelvic Floor Muscles - The muscle you want to relax is the same muscle you work when doing Kegel exercises. Locate the muscle you use to stop your urine flow by tightening it once, then consciously relax it. It seems like it's too simple, but I was really surprised how much better this made me feel.
  • Don't Strain When You Urinate - You've probably been straining to empty every drop when you urinate; try not to do that, it's making things worse. The muscles in that area are all tense, and the nerves are overstimulated. You need to calm them down

Baking Soda
Baking Soda

Stop Drinking Cranberry Juice!

Do not drink cranberry juice or other fruit juice! it is very acidic and will irritate your bladder. Many people who develop these symptoms have been drinking large quantities of cranberry juice; if you are doing so, stop immediately.

Avoid Acidic Food and Drink

  • Immediately stop consuming all carbonated drinks, alcohol and coffee.
  • Do not eat any chocolate.
  • Drink plenty of plain water, but do not force yourself to drink gallons. Simply drink a glass whenever you think about it.

I give a more comprehensive list of "trigger foods" toward the end of this article.

What To Avoid: Don't Sabotage Yourself

Don't give in and reach for the foods that are hurting you. I really sabotaged myself for a while because I would not give up that one cup of coffee in the morning. Once I got past that, I started to get better. Don't undermine your recovery with that one glass of wine or cup of coffee, the way I did. Just stop. If all goes well, this will be a temporary situation. You can go back to enjoying those things later, but for now, you have to get this situation under control.

Instead of your regular acidic indulgences, milk or vanilla ice cream can be pleasant and very soothing. Make sure you get a brand of ice cream that does not contain a lot of chemicals.

Some Hot Drinks You Can Have

I used to have hot Vanilla Milk in the morning instead of coffee. Just put a drop of pure vanilla extract, and a little sugar or honey in a mug of hot milk. Some other options are Marshmallow Root, Chamomile or Catnip tea. They are usually well tolerated, and can be beneficial. Make your teas weak until you are sure they don't bother you. Sometimes, just sipping a cup of hot water is comforting, and it helps keep you hydrated.

Source

What's Wrong with Me? Could It Be Interstitial Cystitis?

The answer to that question is maybe, but maybe not.

If you are researching these symptoms on the Internet, or talking to your doctor, you may have heard of interstitial cystitis (IC). It is a chronic inflammation of the lining of the bladder.

If you have urinary frequency and urgency, urethral burning, and pelvic pain, you probably have cystitis, which is bladder inflammation. If it doesn't go away and no other cause can be found for it, then it may be interstitial cystitis.

Interstitial cystitis is often mistaken for a urinary tract infection. Patients may go as long as four years between the time they first experience symptoms and the time they receive their diagnosis. It most commonly affects women, although men can get it too.

IC is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions, such as bladder infections or bladder cancer. Also, when it is advanced, it can be diagnosed by cystoscopy, as there will be visible ulcers on the lining of the bladder. For a cystoscopy, you will have to see a urologist.

IC is a chronic condition. Just because you have urinary symptoms without bacteria does not mean that you have IC. It is a possibility, but many people, especially women, have these symptoms yet they recover completely.

Seeing a Urologist

Once your GP recognizes that you don't have a garden-variety bladder infection, you will probably be referred to a urologist. All of this takes time, and it will likely be a couple of months before you actually see the urologist. Usually the first thing he will want to do is a cystoscopy, for which a tube with a camera on the end is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to examine it. My urologist made an appointment for me to have that test, but it was six weeks away. He said that if I got better before then, I should call and cancel.

The idea of that test really freaked me out, given the way I was feeling. And reading the interstitial cystitis forums I found online, I wasn't optimistic about the outcome. I didn't see a lot of positive comments about how great things were after the diagnosis. Everyone seemed to be on a lot of drugs that were marginally effective at controlling their symptoms, and it sounded like a life sentence to me, one of those conditions you just have to live with.

Don't Lose Hope

Now, looking back, I think most people who get over their problems never go back to the forum to share their story, so just because you don't see many success stories doesn't mean they don't exist. I did get some good advice for dietary changes and supplements from the IC forum, but I had to do a lot of digging. Here, I've tried to condense the information that helped me to make it more accessible for someone having a first experience with bladder irritation.

I never did have the cystoscopy. I was able to get my symptoms under control and opted not to have it. The cause of interstitial cystitis is mysterious, and I was never diagnosed with it, but I feel as though if I had continued to irritate my bladder, I could have developed this chronic condition.

From my reading and research, it sounds like it's important to get your symptoms under control early. Dietary changes when you first experience symptoms can prevent your condition from progressing. Patients who have had an irritated bladder for a longer period of time experience less relief from dietary changes.

If, despite your best effort, you don't get better, by all means have the test. If it turns out you do have interstitial cystitis, there are medications and treatments that may be beneficial to you.

You Don't Have to Live with Cystitis

You Don't Have to Live with Cystitis
You Don't Have to Live with Cystitis

I found great advice in this book; it is very helpful and informative. It goes into depth about the causes of cystitis, how to reduce bladder pain and how your diet can impact the condition.

 

Healing an Irritated Bladder: What Worked for Me

The healthy bladder is coated with a mucosal tissue called the glycosaminoglycan layer, generally referred to as the GAG layer. This layer protects the bladder from direct contact with urine. The GAG layer can become damaged by bacteria or other trauma, such as pelvic surgery, repeated infections, or a complicated pregnancy. I went on a regimen designed to heal the GAG layer.

First of all, go on a low-acid diet. If you look up Interstitial Cystitis diet or IC diet, you will get a lot of varying advice on this. Different people seem to have different triggers. The ones I mention below in the "Common Food Triggers" section should be avoided. Most of them definitely affected me.

One book I read said, "If you wouldn't put it on an open wound, don't eat it," and this resonated with me. So things like hot spices, lemon and vinegar would be off limits. If I ate acidic food, I could feel it within 10 minutes, burning my bladder.

This list is a good starting point. Pay attention to you body. If you feel worse, ask yourself, "What did I eat?"

Common Food Triggers

Spicy foods are one of the triggers that may cause your symptoms to worsen.
Spicy foods are one of the triggers that may cause your symptoms to worsen.

Foods to Avoid for Bladder Spasm or IC

  • Cranberry
  • Fruits other than pears
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Spicy foods
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Aspartame
  • Aged cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Yogurt
  • Corned beef
  • Cured meats like salami, bacon, or ham
  • Vinegar
  • Salad dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lentils
  • Tree nuts
  • Onions
  • Soy
  • Preservatives
  • Artificial flavors
  • Vitamin Supplements - Especially Vitamin C

What to Eat

Most vegetables, meats, breads, and dairy products will be fine.
Most vegetables, meats, breads, and dairy products will be fine.

It can be hard, with just a list of things you can't have, to figure out what to eat. There are plenty of foods you can still eat.

  • Any meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish is OK, except cured meats like bacon or salami.
  • Most vegetables other than tomatoes, onions, or hot peppers are fine.
  • You can still eat bread, other than rye and sourdough.
  • Dairy foods including milk, butter, cottage cheese, American cheese, and vanilla ice cream work. You can start adding some of the milder aged cheeses in small amounts once you start feeling better.
  • Pasta, rice, and most cereals are OK.
  • Salads can be a problem because of the dressing, but you can try them with herb infused olive oil and coarse salt.

When you feel better, start slowly adding foods one at a time. It can be tempting to just go back to your regular eating pattern, but you don't want to have to start over. I started with a little mayonnaise on my sandwich because I really missed it.

Add one food at a time, and take it very slowly.

What Supplements I Used

Based on what I read in books and researched on the Internet, I used the supplements and products listed below:

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin (400 mg 3x per day): It coats the GAG layer, giving it a chance to heal.
  • Calcium Citrate + Vitamin D (200 mg 2x per day): It helps your body excrete oxalates more efficiently this helps prevent vulvodynia, an associated condition which is also very unpleasant.
  • Bromelain (100 GDU 3x per day): Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme.
  • Quercetin (100 mg 3x per day): Quercetin is another anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Prelief: Prelief is an antacid that you can take before eating acidic foods. I would not recommend eating acidic foods, even with it, until you get your symptoms somewhat under control. But I did use it occasionally as a precautionary measure if I needed to eat out, and I used it more often as my bladder improved and I was able to return to a more normal diet.

You might want to start off with the glucosamine and chondroitin and work your way down the list. add one supplement at a time and wait a few days before adding the next one, just to make sure it's not a trigger for you. I used 21st Century, Glucosamine 250 mg, Chondroitin 200 mg, just because it doesn't have a lot of extra ingredients in it. I don't think the brand matters so much, but look out for added vitamin C in some of them.

One prescription medication I took for a short time that did help me was Ditropan (oxybutynin chloride). It is supposed to relax your bladder muscles to prevent urgent, frequent urination. At first, I was taking 5 mg a day, and it wasn't helping. But when my doctor raised it to 10 mg a day, it gave me some relief.

This Is Based on My Personal Experience

I am not a medical professional. I only want to share my experience in the hope that it helps someone else who is going through this. Every person and every bladder is different. As my urologist pointed out to me, there are many things that can cause the same symptoms, and the cause of bladder pain can be hard to diagnose. What worked for me may not work for you. If it doesn't, don't give up; keep trying until you find something that does.

If you're really suffering right now, you're probably having a flare. It won't last forever; it will pass. It will take time for your bladder to heal, so don't expect a miracle cure overnight. I have experienced two flares that lasted several months each. I am able to eat a normal diet now, even coffee and chocolate. But if I had to give them up forever to prevent that kind of pain, it would be well worth it. Now I know what I have to do when that feeling comes back.

Some Seasonal Advice

It is December 21 when I am writing this, and I am seeing a spike in visits to this page. That is making me recall the time when I had my very worst flair. It was Christmas time, and the office I work at was full of tasty treats. I love chocolate, and I was not able to resist the lure. If you are suffering right now, and you are eating a lot of chocolate, please stop!

I know it's hard, but nothing is worth that kind of suffering. Give yourself a gift for Christmas. The gift of healing!

There is Great Advice in These Comments

I have had many people visit this page and leave comments. If you need more advice, I would recommend looking through them.

The list is long, but there is some great wisdom to be gained from others who have experienced unexplained bladder pain.

© 2012 Sherry Hewins

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    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 6 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Katerina, Once your bladder is already irritated, it can be hard to tell what foods are irritating it. You could try eliminating the most common irritants for a few weeks and see if that helps. If that's too much for you, maybe you should try taking Prelief before meals. If that works, it would be a good clue that your symptoms are food-related.

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      Katerina 6 days ago

      Hi everyone. I am 19 years old and have had some sort of bladder pain since I was 15. At first it did seem to be UTIs but then recently in April I had symptoms lasting for weeks. I went to the ER 2-3 times in the course of 3 weeks and they kept giving me different antibiotics. I then went to a female np working in a urology department. After looking at my cultures from most of my visits to the ER throughout the years she found that many of those tests came back negative, no UTI. There was one case in April but once that cleared there were no more. She told me about IC and about general bladder spasms. Prior to this visit I had already known about IC due to my own research and began trying to correlate foods with my flare ups. Unfortunately, I still can't find anything food wise that causes the flare ups. They seem to be more random. Over the last week I began to notice something. I take Ritalin as needed for my ADD especially when I go to school since I cannot focus. This last week I began summer classes. I also began retaking (after a month of not using) the Ritalin. I also noticed that my flare ups became more frequent. I then realized during finals and tests I was taking Ritalin and that's when I had my surge. This round the spasms were so terrible that on the way home I peed my pants, I simply could not control it. For now I'm on Toviaz, a bladder spasm medication. I was on Detrol for a month but it was too expensive for me. The Toviaz (and Detrol) doesn't get rid of spasms and pain completely. I take it daily so it helps reduce the amount to 1 a week and when I do get a flare up I take the medicine and it tends to ease the pain to a more functional amount. Tomorrow I will be calling the np and updating her on this. Hopefully that is one of my triggers that I can remove. I will also be starting pelvic floor physical therapy and hope that it will help as well.

      Thank you all for sharing your experiences and advice. I decided to share mine in case that helps anyone. I plan to update when I know more.

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      Sherry Hewins 7 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Megan, that sounds absolutely awful! I don't know if what you have is exactly what I experienced. Most of us haven't had it as children. Still, I understand your distress, and I am very pleased if you can find some help or encouragement here.

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      Megan 7 days ago

      Thank you SO MUCH for this article! I've been suffering since I was 5, now 24. They never gave me that scope he did a kidney scope and decided I was fine, switched docs they said over active bladder, their meds didn't help. Got ANOTHER doctor who said the meds the other doc had me on was for elderly people and suggested dialysis so I never went back, and still get them from time to time, nobody ever understands my pain! so I'm very grateful for your remedies and suggestions!

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      Sherry Hewins 7 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Kim, I'm so glad my remedies helped you. Good luck with your recovery.

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      Kim 8 days ago

      Hi Sherry - Thanks so much for your valuable words of advice and experience! I started the baking soda last night and it wasn't as bad tasting as I expected. During the evening I wore a pad (keep them on hand for my 13 yr old niece) so I would feel more confident in trying to relax those muscles (in case of leakage). I also put a cold compress "down there" and fell asleep with it there. I woke about 6am and that horrible feeling wasn't there! It's back now, but not quite as severe. I had 2 whole waking hours this morning with relief. I took some more baking soda before breakfast and put the cold compresses in the fridge to be ready when I get home from work! The light at the end of this long tunnel is becoming visible. Thank you to everyone who posted their experiences. It means so much to know I am not alone in this because family and close friends I've shared this with have never had this problem and cannot understand.

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      Sherry Hewins 9 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Kim, I was in peri-menopause when my problems started, so I do not doubt that had something to do with it. However, just because you are now in menopause does not mean there are no further effect from your hormone fluctuations. As my urologist told me himself, these symptoms are common, and not easily understood. They can be caused by a variety of factors, making them hard to diagnose. As several people have pointed out in the comments section, bladder irritation can continue for weeks after a bladder infection is gone.

      I have given you my best advice as far as diet and supplements go. Also the importance of relaxing those muscles cannot be overstated. Take some baking soda and have a hot bath. Don't strain when you go to the bathroom. When you go to bed, take a cold compress to put between your legs. (I used some ice cubes wrapped up in a wet washcloth inside a zip-lock bag.

      I do understand the word torturous, and it is not too strong a word. I hope you are feeling better soon. You have many sister who have been down the same road.

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      Kim 9 days ago

      I'm so glad to hear others are experiencing what I am right now. About 3 weeks ago I noticed my urine was solid red. Went to urgent care and was told I had a UTI & was given Bactrim for 7 days. I had no other symptoms with this UTI - amazingly. Two days after finishing the bactrim, I had sudden flank pain and immediately thought it was a kidney stone (had one 2 years ago). The pain lasted about 3 hours, then suddenly stopped. My urine was red again. I went back to the urgent care and the culture showed I still had the UTI (e-coli bacteria) and was given cipro. Finished that med a week ago today. Well, 14 days ago (while still on the cipro) I awoke to that horrible feeling of urgency. Like I need to tinkle in the worst way NON-STOP! It won't go away. I had this years ago when I entered peri-menopause and like one other post I read, the ER doc gave me Xanax to calm me down because after 2 months I was literally losing it from being so miserable. I am now taking half a xanax tablet at night to calm myself enough to go to sleep and have gotten back on lexapro to help my anxiety level - which is thru the roof with this constant miserable feeling. I sit here at work trying not to cry - while running down the hall to the bathroom constantly. I will try the baking soda as soon as I get home today. I am desperate for this horrible feeling to STOP! I cannot live like this. When this occurred before I went to a urologist, who put me thru a ton of tests (including the cystoscopy - boy was that awful!) - all of which found NOTHING! They gave me lots of different pills to try, but nothing worked. It finally went away on its own after getting on the xanax and lexapro - my ob/gyn said it was probably perimenopausal related due to fluctuating hormones & chemical imbalance. Whatever. I'm 2 years post-menopausal now so this happening again must be related to the bad UTI I just had. My urine has been clear for a week now so the infection has to be gone. Just don't know why this torturous (and that is not an exaggeration!) urgency won't go away!!

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      Sherry Hewins 10 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Shabba, The IC diet does not recommend vinegar, as it is acidic. I can't argue with success though, I'm glad you are feeling better.

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      Sherry Hewins 10 days ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I'm glad your symptoms are just mild. I think you will probably be feeling better in a couple of weeks.

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      Sarah 10 days ago

      Thank you so much for this helpful post! I'm 24 and had never had a UTI before unluckily contracting 2 in the span of a few weeks this spring. After the second, I have continuing symptoms (mild feeling of having to pee all the time) that have lasted for a month-ish at this point (but a couple weeks ago I got another test because I was worried which was negative, and my doctor said probably it's just irritation). I didn't know my coffee/chocolate habit was probably not helping me heal! Ugh! Really wish doctors would warn about this. Started the low acid diet and the glucosamine, really hoping this goes away soon or else I'll feel obligated to go to the doc yet again... This has given me such hope I was really getting worried it was a chronic thing! At the same time, in comparison to the pain and terrible symptoms some commenters are going through I'm realizing I'm so lucky it's just a mild problem and I can still sleep at night. Wow, my heart goes out to all of you. Thanks again!!

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      Shabba 11 days ago

      Hey guys. I was struggling with severe pain in bladder from burning urine. Passing the urine was the hardest thing. No pain killer would work. Even after taking antibiotics burning was back. I have medical background. I did all kind of urine cultures on my on urine. No bactetia i found. The only thing worked for me was apple cider vinegar. 2 table spoons in one glass of water. Half glass is right away and half throughout the day. Within 15 mins of taking half glass severe pain cramps in bladder would go away. Another thing I would like to share is which I found was that the burning is due to eating certain foods. For me specially lemon and oranges,green hot pepper and certain cheese would cause burning right away. Since I started avoiding these foods I rarely get burning. Funny thing is i was prescribed vitamin c in high concentration for my burning bladder which made it worst but helped me to find out the route cause. Best of luck guys. Forgot to mention I had many antibiotics from 5 days to 3 months consecutively. I been to 3 urologist had cysts copy done. No could find anything. Ooh yes I found on my own one bacteria (urea plasma urealyticum) in my urine, not detectable by any culture. Most of the Dr's don't know about it and urologist have different opinions. Some say it is okay if it is in bladder some think it can cause chronic bladder problem. 3 months antibiotic could not kill this bacteria. It is permanent resident in my bladder.

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      Wanda Owens 2 weeks ago

      WOW! Thank you SO MUCH for posting this! I think I had a UTI in Dec. 2016...never had a UTI before in my life and I am 52 years old. They prescribed Cipro and after 2 weeks- still really didn't have relief. Went on D-manoose, Ulsi Urva and a whole slew of other things religiously. It seemed to go away for awhile, but would come back.

      I have Hashimotos Hypothyroidism, so I started a protocol for that 6 weeks ago. I noticed that my "UTI" symptoms have been flaring quite a bit...and it is all starting to make sense- the protocol has me drinking lemon juice (fresh squeezed) and I was adding a lemon to the smoothie I drink for breakfast every morning.

      I will be trying the baking soda as soon as I get home today. And I am so thankful that you posted. I want this madness to stop. For me it's only been 6 months...so I can only imagine what everyone else has been going through for years.

      Thank you again!!

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      Sherry Hewins 2 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Sharon Ellenburg - I know all of this is very distressing, but if you have read back through any of the comments here you can see that inflammation after a UTI is very common. My best advice is all in the article. Follow the low acid diet, take some baking soda in water, take a hot bath and try to de-stress. A cold compress on the urethra can be soothing especially when your are trying to sleep.

      It will take time, but as long as you don't do anything to further irritate your bladder, I think you will be feeling better in a few weeks. I know that sounds like a long time to suffer, but it will get gradually better. At this point, I don't think you should worry about IC. This is a very short time to be having these problems, and many women have the same experience you are having, yet they recover completely.

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      Shavon Ellenburg 2 weeks ago

      This article and all the comments is very comforting to me and gives me hope. I am 31 years old with two boys. I work full times as well as being a mom and a wife. I am always active and enjoy playing outside with my boys. I have always been very healthy and rarely get sick.

      3 weeks ago I started having UTI symptoms -I had a prescription for Bactrim that was a refill from an ear infection I had..so I started taking that. By the next day I was in so much pain I ended up in the ER which I hadn't been to the ER in over 10 years. They tested my urine and the Dr told me I had a severe UTI.. I was given a rocephin shot and prescription for cipro. Nothing grew out on the culture bc the Dr said I had taken that bactrim and it killed some of the bacteria . After that prescription I went back to the Dr and I still had the infection and was put on Macrobid. 3 days later I was back in the ER with pain.. another urine test said I still had UTI. I was given another shot of rocephin and was told to finish the macrobid. 3 days later I started feeling nauseous and started vomiting .. I went to see my OBGYN bc my regular Dr couldn't see me for 2 weeks. He did a pelvic exam and other tests which was all normal. He said he thinks my bladder and urethra was very inflamed for the infection. My urine was normal but he went ahead and gave me another rocephin shot and put me on doxycycline in case there was still bacteria that the test didn't pick up. I also had blood present in my urine on every test. It's been 3 days since I was at my obgyn and I still have pain and feel like I have to pee all the time. I also feel as if I have menstrual cramps 24/7 which I'm guessing is the pelvic pain and it doesn't ever ease off. I am miserable. All I want to do is lay on the heating pad and sleep. I cry all the time bc I'm miserable and don't know what to do to feel better. I just want my normal life back before this UTI. This is hard on my husband and kids especially bc they want their fun Mom back. Could this just be that my bladder hasn't recovered from the UTI. Do you recommend anything to help with the pelvic pain and frequent urgency? I'm so desperate to feel better I'll try anything. I also have only been drinking water since this all started. Could this be IC or am I just recovering from this UTI? This was also the first time I've ever had a UTI .

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      Sherry Hewins 3 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Than yo Erika Keamy. I hope that more doctors, and patients, will become aware of this problem. I'm sure it has caused untold and avoidable suffering.

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      Erika Keamy 3 weeks ago

      It's unfortunate, but many doctors don't seem to offer very helpful advice or even basic information when dealing with a UTI. When I was dealing with a UTI for the first time and saw several different doctors over the course of six weeks, not one of them explained that irritation that could linger for weeks after the infection, nor did any of them advise me to avoid caffeine, acidic foods, etc. It would have gone a long way to helping me recover from this awful ailment, and understand why I was still experiencing symptoms.

      In reading a number of forums where women complain of pain/urgency for several months after a UTI, I have to wonder if what they're consuming is preventing their bladder from properly healing.

      Thank you for this article and forum, Sherry! It's a wonderfully supportive place, and filled with helpful information for how to deal with UTIs and their aftermath.

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      Sherry Hewins 3 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Good luck to you Tigerz.

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      Tigerz 3 weeks ago

      Recent hysterectomy and the spasms after peeing are like an orgasm gone horribly horribly wrong. Has the same spasmodic urges but, holy heck, I want to stop the pee before it's o o o over so I don't get them. I'm going to follow the suggestions here and pray. First up, baking soda.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image
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      Sherry Hewins 3 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I fully understand your anticipation. Hopefully, you have caught this in time to prevent it getting worse. Best of luck to you.

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      Heather 3 weeks ago

      Oh my gosh - I am SO relieved to have found this article and all your comments. I've just come off of 5 weeks of antibiotics - Nitrofurantoin for 2 weeks then Cipro for a week then back on Nitrofurantoin.... went to Urgent care and they gave me a shot of Rocephin. That was last Tuesday. Was referred to a URO/GYN and saw him on Thursday - he gave me pulled urine from my bladder via a tube and concluded the UTI was gone. He prescribed Myrbetrq 25mg for Bladder spasms and said I should have a cranberry supplement with 36mg PAC's daily. I have not had cronic UTI's. This is the first in years ... so not sure why I should take a supplement. Second - no one ever asked what I was drinking/eating. And I've been drinking ALOT of cranberry nector (tart) in club soda - alot! I tried D Manoose for 2 weeks, even setting my alarm at night (not that I needed it). So grateful to read all this - I'm now going to stop cranberry nectar and club soda and go with water ... so look forward to healing my bladder (who ever thought they would say that!!!)

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      Sherry Hewins 4 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      The most bothersome symptom for me was a constant, urgent need to pee. The baking soda helped with that.

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      Tina 4 weeks ago

      I have been suffering with none painfulnbladder spasms (what my doctor calls nocturia) for years now. I have been on many different medications and I find that they work for a short period of time but stop eventually. One question I have is about the baking soda. Did this work to stop the spasming? Or for a different symptom?

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      MK 5 weeks ago

      Thank you writing this article. My experience has been similar to yours. I even had the cystoscopy and the urologist found nothing. He gave me a prescription to stop bladder spasms and that did help. I believe that I have been helped most by reducing these acidic foods as you recommend. The discomfort had gone away for a couple months and has recently returned. I came back to your article and realize now that I need to back off of the offensive foods like coffee and chocolate. I am grateful for what you've shared!

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      Sherry Hewins 5 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I am so happy for you KateGris. I hope this positive direction continues. Of course you're better off if you can avoid the caffeine, but I felt like it was the lesser of two evils at the time.

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      Sherry Hewins 5 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Hi Hannah, I'm so glad you are finding your way. I went through a thing with vaginal infections, taking antibiotics for bacterial, then developing yeast infections and taking medicine for those. I finally had to just lay off the medicine and wait for things to regain their natural balance.

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      Hannah 5 weeks ago

      Hello again!

      Just wanted to give a little update on things since I originally posted 3 months ago. I will say shortly after I stopped eating tree nuts (almonds) and avocado and stuck strictly to the diet you used I felt much better...but never completely resolved. Shortly after my post they figured out I had a yeast infection with a strange resistant candida (candida krusei). We are still battling that and my doctor thinks this yeast is causing some, if not all, of my bladder symptoms. I have been through 5 courses of various antifungals and today finally it may be clear as he did not see anything on the wet prep, but, a final culture has not come back yet...I will say that has added a new component of complication to the diet.. Yeast likes alkaline environments so I may have been helping it along some by staying so alkaline but I have been afraid to change this as I don't want the bladder pain to come back. So I am going to try a yeast diet next which is still somewhat similar to the IC diet but with things such as lemon ect... I still have some bladder symptoms but most days its about 90% improved... Still hoping for a full recovery! I am partially posting this too to let others know there are other causes of cystitis and be sure its not something strange like a really bad yeast infection.. My symptoms weren't really even the typical itchiness. My thoughts and prayers are for all of us dealing with this frustrating problem! Keep pushing and digging and trying to figure out the root cause for you as an individual...

      I will touch base again when I have a full recovery and fungus free!!!

      Much thanks... "fungus amongus"

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      KateGris 5 weeks ago

      I am DRAMATICALLY better today. Almost back to normal. And I attribute my recovery to what I read here. I thought about taking caffeine pills, but even that worries me because caffeine is a diuretic. Figured it's better just to stay entirely away.

      I took another hot bath last night - both times just soaked in hot water with no soap/bubbles. Heavenly!

      Thank you again for your suggestions and dedication!

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      Sherry Hewins 5 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      KateGris, I totally feel your pain with giving up the coffee. In fact, I started taking caffeine pills in order to give up the coffee. I'm not sure that's "Kosher" with the IC diet people, but I figured it was better than drinking the coffee, and I did start getting better. I figured, it was the acid I was trying to avoid, not the caffeine. Then you can wean yourself down gradually from the pills.

      I've had a few other people bring up the idea that lemons are really alkaline. I don't know, I'm not a scientist, but they are against the IC diet, so I didn't have them. Orange juice seemed to cause a definite bad reaction for me.

      d-mannose? I have not tried it, so I can't say.

      As far as the hot bath goes, I'm a fan. I think part of the theory against taking baths with a UTI is that bacteria may be in the water. So, I always use clean water. If you're so dirty it will pollute the water take a rinse first. Also, don't use soap or any additives, they may be irritating. If you need soap, take a shower first, then a soak.

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      KateGris 5 weeks ago

      Just took a bath for the first time in a decade! It was extremely soothing, and I may take another one before night is out. (Last bath was in a new house with garden tub - only to discover hot-water heater was not large enough to actually fill tub!)

      I am so grateful I found this post/comments. And Sherry, additionally grateful you have continued to respond to comments over the course of several years. This post is the balm I need in my time of trouble. I appear to be in early phases of bladder irritation post-UTI, so perhaps my experience can help others. And I'm hoping your solutions will get me to recovery soon.

      I haven't had a UTI for decades - since my 20s. (I'm now 53.) Three weeks ago, I developed UTI symptoms, primarily urinary urgency and frequency. Every time, I was able to void a small amount. Fortunately no burning or inability to void, until today. I have literally been spending days on toilet given the urgency and frequency.

      My first reactions 3 weeks ago were - 1) it will go away on its own and 2) I want to avoid antibiotics. I heard cranberry juice was disproven, so I didn't go there, at least at first. I tried drinking 80 oz. of water daily, and took a supplement, uva ursi. However, several days went by, Weekend #1 came, and urgency/frequency and discomfort remained. My friends, one of whom is an RN with her own bladder problems, warned me of the danger of a kidney infection. It reached the point where I couldn't take it anymore, and wound up in urgent care on a Sunday.

      After a urine sample, I was diagnosed with bladder infection and sent on my way with 3-day course of nitrofurantoin. By this point, I had added AZO for urinary pain relief, which helped.

      I fully expected it to get better within a few days. But the week went by, and then Weekend #2, with little relief. So last Monday, I reached out to my PCP, who prescribed Cipro. I also took another urinanalysis, although that was several days after I started Cipro and I don't know results. I read online that some people required multiple courses of antibiotics. So again, I fully expected to recover within a few days. I also received prescription-strength phenazopyridine. And I added unsweetened cranberry juice, because that's what everyone recommends and why not try it?

      And here it is, Weekend #3, my third weekend of agony in a row. I have been in decline since Thursday, and again expected the antibiotic course to work, and to start feeling better. I use iPhone stopwatch/lap timer to record time between voiding, and at times I am voiding as frequently as every two minutes!

      I was so desperate I skipped morning coffee yesterday to gauge impact. I've been a daily coffee drinker for decades. I drink 6 cups every morning - although it doesn't seem like that much to me because it's only 2.5 large mugs. It did not make a difference Saturday - in fact it was a miserable day and I was in 2-5-minutes-between-urination mode. Not to mention I had a mild headache by end of day.

      This morning, however, I was going 20-30 minutes between voiding, and recovery seemed possible. I'm a caffeine addict, and was worried about side effects of going cold turkey. Since I was feeling better, why not add coffee back in?

      Big mistake. After a good morning, urgency went back to every 2 minutes. I finally realized I may have a bladder irritation, not infection, and that's what led me to this blog. Thank God. First, it's helpful to know I'm not crazy. I've also learned after living with arthritis for 10 years: You have to find what works for you via trial and error. Western medicine, great as it is, can often lead to a spiral of drugs and treatments which don't resolve underlying issues. (After cortisone injections/year of chiropractic/knee surgery/physical therapy, etc. etc., I finally found what works best to keep arthritis pain at bay is a combination of monthly massages with cupping, weekly reformer Pilates and working out with a personal trainer 2/x week. Working out MORE means less pain - probably because muscles are stronger. After 10 years, for first time all pain gone! So it kills me that UTI has prevented me working out the past few days.)

      But perhaps coffee not a mistake in total, since it gave me concrete evidence coffee is a problem! Since finding post, I've had multiple courses of 1/4 tsp. of baking soda today. No immediate relief, unfortunately. And no more cranberry juice. Aside from the coffee, I also eat 1 oz. dark chocolate several times a week, and put balsamic vinegar on food almost every night. Sigh.

      But I am determined to follow your recommendations. However, have a few questions/comments:

      -- What about alkaline water? A friend already recommended it, so I'm going to stick with it since it seems to make sense.

      -- In reaching acidic foods, several foods which appear acid, such as lemons, are not metabolized that way by the body. Lemons/limes/grapefruit are in fact highly alkaline. However, cranberries are definitely acidic. Charts like this list alkaline foods: http://www.rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm. Thoughts?

      -- What about d-mannose? I'm considering adding that.

      Luckily I love milk (LOVE!), so it's no problem to drink more. And your morning vanilla milk is my middle-of-the-night "I can't sleep" drink. It won't have same kick as coffee, but will give it a try. Again, most generous thanks for the tips and support. I'm feeling better already - 20 minutes between pees! - and hoping I can get irritation down, learn by trial/error what works for me, and my life back to normal soon.

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      Sherry Hewins 6 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Thanks for adding to the discussion Erika Keamy. I think it will be comforting for others to know that lingering bladder irritation is not uncommon after a bladder infection.

      I would like to add that I think it's important to avoid irritating the bladder further during this sensitive time. It is important to let the bladder heal.

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      Erika Keamy 6 weeks ago

      I just wanted to throw in my two cents about my recent experience. I've had 3 UTIs in 7 years and took antibiotics to deal with the infection. All 3 times I experienced bladder irritation for about 3 weeks after finishing antibiotics, which was probably more annoying that the UTI itself. I coped with it by eating a bland diet, drinking nothing but water, and using a heating pad. Also helpful were the AZO pills to stop the feeling of urgency so I could function at work and get a good night's sleep. I know how awful it is to go through the "irritation phase", but it does eventually go away. The first time I went through this, I panicked because I was afraid that the infection wasn't going away. But from my experience, and what I've read about UTIs, it's quite normal to suffer from after-effects for a few weeks while the bladder completely heals.

      Good luck to everyone out there suffering with his awful ailment. You have my full sympathy!

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      Sherry Hewins 6 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Jennifer, I believe that advice to drink cranberry juice for these symptoms has caused a lot of unnecessary pain. And it's not just me. The IC forum recommends low acid, and so did my urologist.

      One of the books I read recommended the hot baths, and I found them to be wonderful. If what you've been doing hasn't worked, why not try something different?

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      Jennifer 6 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for answering me back so quickly. This is why I'm confused. I was told and read many times for my uti to drink cranberry juice and don't sit in a bath! I love baths and haven't had one in three years! I will try the cold compress. That's what I'm feeling now pressure, and irritation. I've learned to live with it but I'm tired of it and want to go to bed and sleep without interruption!

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      Sherry Hewins 6 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Jennifer, the Glucosamine and Chondroitin certainly seemed to help with my condition. I also highly recommend a relaxing, hot bath if that feels good to you.

      Also a cold compress on the vulva if that area is irritated, especially when trying to sleep, and pay attention to what kind of TP you use. I carry my own TP with me in case I have to use a public restroom.

      Read through all of the comments here. There is a lot of good advice.

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      Jennifer 6 weeks ago

      You are right about the kegel exercises, it aggravates and does make it worse. I will also stop the Cran RX. What about the glucosamine or the chondroitin? Would that help with the spasms, or take away the uncomfortable feeling in my private areas? It just feels good to talk to a woman, who has researched and found ways to heal yourself. I'm sick of antibiotics and the side effects, which linger for months. What's interesting is that I taught for 33 years and went to the bathroom once during school hours! I appreciate your advice.

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      Sherry Hewins 6 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Jennifer, I would stop the Cran Rx. Also, I found kegel exercises to aggravate my condition. My advice is to try to relax those muscles.

      The best thing I can tell you is to follow the low acid diet. Keep the diet very bland and low-acid until you start feeling better.

      When you start adding more foods, pay attention to how what you are eating affects your symptoms.

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      Jennifer 6 weeks ago

      I ran across this article when I typed in what to do for bladder spasms. I have OAB and current uti's. All started three years ago. I had never had a uti before and now I've had 12 in three years. OAB and uti's have similar symptoms. Plus I don't have the burning when urinating si I never know when I have one. I have been going to a Urologist for three years. Right now I am on myrbetriq and have been for three weeks. My problem is the frequency and spasms. The OAB pill hasn't seemed to kick in I'm up 3 to 4 times a night. I don't have IC , but I see the symptoms are also similar. I have been trying your baking soda remedy for two days and kegel exercises. I also was told to run a hormone cream on my urethra and vagina nightly. It's very frustrating running my urine down to Urologist to be cultured to find its negative. I don't want a uti, but when I have symptoms like low back pain, chills, frequency, and its negative I feel like what is causing those symptoms. I am also on a low dose of antibiotic every other day. I read where d-Mannos helps with uti's so I drink Cran RX daily. Your article really hit home. I read the other comments and it seems like you have really helped so many people. Do you have any advice for me?

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      Sherry Hewins 6 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Jennifer. I see your post now.

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      Jennifer 6 weeks ago

      I am trying to send you a message but it won't let me.

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      Sherry Hewins 7 weeks ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I hope she gets some relief.

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      Sally Kirkland 7 weeks ago

      My 23 year old daughter has IC. It's so hard to watch her suffer. Thank you for giving hope.

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      Sherry Hewins 2 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      That's wonderful to hear cw/me. I really appreciate you coming back to update us on your progress, and I'm sure a lot of other people to too.

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      cw/me 2 months ago

      Hi all, popping in to say how much better I've been doing lately. Am now back to drinking my usual Kava low acid coffee, 2 cups a day without Javacid, etc., and I tried some white wine mixed with sparkling water which I thought surely would kill me, but I've been sipping away for four days now and...I'm okay!! I didn't even use acid reducer! I've recently added a few foods that I'd given up nine months ago, including organic yogurt and garden burgers that include both nuts and spices, two absolute no no's several months back. April 2nd will mark 10 months of my ordeal when I first got the UTI that started all of this. Was in horrific pain every day, mainly burning after peeing and for much of each day, for the first 5-6 months, then it slow began to fade away, and now when I eat an offending food the reaction tends to just be mild to moderate abdominal pain. I was drinking 64 oz of water every day, then a couple of months ago cut down to about 32, and now I just take a few sips whenever I am thirsty. I am about to start testing the biggest trigger foods and see what happens. One at a time, beginning with bananas, then nuts, then some soups and other prepared foods. I now feel confident I'll recover fully from this. I hope everyone will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel from their ordeal, too. I still take glucosamine and chondroitin supplements three times a day. Otherwise, no other treatment, however I do find that aerobic exercise alleviates occasional abdominal pain flareups.

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      Adiel 3 months ago

      Thank you so much for this information. I see light at the end of the tunnel.

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      Sherry Hewins 3 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      Joy Cheskes - The amount of water isn't important. I prefer to use only a small amount of water; that way I can swallow it quickly and then chase it down with plain water.

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      Joy Cheskes 3 months ago

      Thank you for all this information! How much water do you mix with the baking soda?

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      Robyn Mar 3 months ago

      Thank you so much for all of this information. I was having frequent bladder spasms and cramping, plus urgency. After reading this page I quit coffee and chocolate and acidic beverages. The NEXT DAY, I stopped having the bladder spasms and the incontinence is much better. Like a miracle! I have eliminated acidic foods from my diet. Now I need to find a good coffee substitute for breakfast! Thanks again.

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      Joanna 3 months ago

      This page has really given me a bit of hope, I have been absolutely desperate to urinate constantly for 2 weeks, Docs thought I had a UTI and was given three courses of antibiotics, however I had no sign of an infection. He later told me it was most likely Interstitial cystitis, but I'm not so sure as I don't have any of the other symptoms. It just feels so heavy in the bladder all the time. I'm trying to eat completely clean and anti acidic food, but wondering when I might feel some relief, this is my very first experience of this, feeling so overwhelmed and teary! x

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      MJB 3 months ago

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I suffered for about 18 months with OAB as well as a lot of sensitivity in the vulva area. On some days I could not even stand for my underwear to touch my skin. Like you, I finally went on a very strict diet...no acidic foods for about 9 months. Prelief did not work for me but I found another product called Acid Zap that has been great. I can now drink fruit smoothies and even have tomatoes and an occasional glass of wine. The glucosamine definitely helped me get well. I actually took a product called Cysto Renew which has glucosamine in it. Also something else that really helped me is Desert Harvest Aloe. You can find all those products on IC-network.com. The Desert Harvest Aloe was actually developed for bladder cancer. The IC-Network website helped me as much or more than my urologist. She kept giving me OAB prescriptions and none if them worked all the time. For 6 months I either felt like I had to go to the bathroom all the time or I felt like someone had just taken a catheter out of me and my skin just hurt (that's the only way I know how to describe it). I think my problems stemmed from radiation that I had in 2009. My symptoms started in 2015. For the sensitive skin my Dr. prescribed Amitriptylin and it helped tremendously. It is a cheap drug and I would highly recommend it. It helps with certain types of pain. Another OTC product I found is called V Magic.

      It is very soothing to the skin. Instead of taking calcium citrate I started taking calcium carbonate as I read that it protects the bladder better than the calcium citrate. I also take a lot of magnesium to help the calcium absorb into my body. Good luck to everyone. I hope that everyone that reads this gets well very soon.

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