Step 2: Assessing The Impact of IC
Here are some of the IC questions that I was worried about and took the time to ask my doctors and other patients:
A. Which medications would I have to stop? How far in advance?
See section on treatments
B. If sex is painful, how will I handle the increased sexual activity?
Women with IC may experience increased symptoms and/or what feels like an IC flare, usually 12-48 hours after intercourse due, we believe, to the gentle yet persistent pelvic floor spasms which occur for several hours after orgasm. Luckily, we have many self-help strategies that can reduce those symptoms which you can read in the ICN Intimacy and Sexuality Resource Center
C. Will my pregnancy be considered high risk because of IC?
Every patient is different. Your personal medical history, current symptoms and/or medications you may be using will be assessed. Ultimately, only your doctor can make this determination. Ask them and then talk about the pros and cons?? Will it require bedrest?? Will medication be an issue?? What does “high risk” actually mean??
D. What will childbirth be like for me? Is vaginal or cesarean preferable with IC?
IC patients have had both. Again, it depends upon your physiology and pregnancy conditions. You can talk with other patients about the pros and cons in our ICN support forum. (See support links below).
E. Will my OB/GYN really understand all aspects of my IC?
You’ll have to sit down and have a thorough discussion about this. The use of prenatal vitamins is a perfect opportunity to test the waters. Some patients can easily tolerate vitamins while others have more trouble. Don’t expect your OBGYN to understand the daily grind of life with IC but they should be able to talk about various treatments and medical care issues. For example, it may be very reasonable for you to ask for some physical therapy post delivery to help any pelvic floor dysfunction that may have occurred or been exacerbated by labor and delivery.
F. How will my Urologist be involved in my pregnancy?
Good question. Ask him or her!
G. Do I want to breastfeed?
This is a very personal decision based not only on your personal preferences but also any medication you may take that could be transferred to your child through breast milk.
H. Can I be a good parent with IC?
IC doesn’t change your ability to love but, ultimately, you do have to take some time to think about your personal situation. Talk with a trusted friend, your parent, a counselor or your doctor about any questions or concerns that you may have.
I. Can I physically and emotionally handle caring for an infant (then toddler, then child) with IC?
Your doctor should be able to give you a good assessment on healthy you are and if you can physically support a pregnancy. It’s fairly normal for your emotions to become quite confused during a pregnancy. Prior to pregnancy and during a pregnancy, this is a great time to find a counselor or therapist that you can work with to help you sort through any emotional issues you may have. There’s no shame in seeking help. In fact, a good mother will role model to their child that it’s perfectly fine to ask for help from a professional rather than suffer in silence at home alone.
The ICN book My Mom Has IC: A Painful Bladder Story can be quite helpful. See info below.
K. Will we need to hire help and can we afford it?
This is worth a heart to heart discussion with your partner and family. Can you do it all?? Can family members or friends help?? Would hiring someone ease the burden??
L. Will I be able to find the time to continue ongoing treatments (bladder installations, physical therapy, etc)?
The worst thing you could do is ignore, or sacrifice, your own health. Your family needs you to be strong and healthy. You MUST find time to care for yourself, including visiting your doctor, trying treatments and/or doing physical therapy.
M. How will I care for my child when my IC is flaring?
Ideally, you can prevent flares from occurring.. but, if not, having a backup plan is essential. Who can help with the kids?? Who can take you to the doctor if you need to go??? Try to have a safety net of options so that if your IC flares, you can get the care you need while still caring for your child.
- My Mom Has IC: A Painful Bladder Story by Jill Osborne MA, IC Network
- The Interstitial Cystitis Survival Guide, Chapter 9: Sex & IC, IC & Pregnancy pages 77-80
- Living Well With a Hidden Disability: Transcending Doubt and Shame and Reclaiming Your Life by Stacy Taylor, Robert Epstein, Chapter 4: Love and Sex, Chapter 5: Parenting