If commuting or taking long car rides exacerbates your bladder or pelvic pain symptoms, you are not alone. The first epidemiological studies on IC found that 50% of patients reported pain and discomfort while sitting in a car.(1) The vibration from bumpy roads, as well as constant starts and stops, are jarring to the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. Throw in restricted restroom access and/or the perception that a restroom might not be available, it’s only natural that patients find rides stressful and unenjoyable. Fear not! Here are some strategies that can help:
A smooth suspension is a must
After my IC/BPS began, I spent a year test driving cars, SUV’s and trucks in search of one that didn’t make me cry. The most comfortable were mid to larger SUV’s and sedans which, given todays’ gas prices, seems daunting. Some car brands (i.e. Buick, Kia) are known for having smoother suspensions. I drove a midsize Buick Rendezvous for many years and it was perfect for my tender bladder and pelvic floor. The seats were soft, comfortable and supportive. I barely felt bumps in the roads or on the freeways. Smooth as silk! After 13 years, it eventually died and I switched to the smaller Nissan Rogue. While it’s not quite as good as the Buick, the seats work and the drive is pretty smooth. Fair warning. It does have a lot more road noise. I hope to update to a Nissan Pathfinder later this year (if prices go down) which has more storage capacity because I often have to evacuate due to fires.
When in doubt, try renting a car that seems promising for a few days. You need more time than a typical test drive. You’ll want to drive throughout your neighborhood and nearby streets and highways to see if it’s truly comfortable and will work for you.
Going on a train ride?
If you’re planning a long train trip, consider upgrading to Business or First class which have better suspensions and more comfortable seats. I had one of my worst flares ever and ended up in the Emergency Room after riding in the cheap seats on Amtrak for a five hour trip. Never again!
Bring a Restroom Access Card
If you’re worried that you’ll be denied access to a restroom, try showing an ICN Restroom Access card. These come in handy in any situation where restroom access might be limited, including plane flights, train rides and private facilities. Of course, you’ll find some of the best bathrooms off the freeway at Starbucks, McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants.
Try using a Bladder & Pelvic Friendly Chair Cushion
Some seats are too hard, too firm or just put pressure exactly where you are the most sensitive. Donut shaped pillows don’t work because they put pressure on your urethra and stretch the perineum awkwardly. The ICN offers the innovative Pelvic Pain Chair Cushions that reduce pressure on your urethra, vulva, scrotum and/or rectum and are much more comfortable. If you struggle with pelvic floor tension, especially your glutei muscles, our Waffle Chair Cushion is ideal.
Some patients allow themselves to become housebound because they worry that they will not be able to