No, but Sjögren’s can cause symptoms that you might mistake for a urinary tract infection. Sjögren’s is an autoimmune disease that causes dryness in the body, including the vaginal area. Vaginal dryness may result in discomfort during sexual intercourse and an increase in the risk of bacterial and fungal vaginal infections. Painful urination, a common symptom of UTIs, also can occur with vaginal infections.

If you have Sjögren’s, you are also more likely to have a condition called painful bladder syndrome, or interstitial cystitis. This condition causes signs and symptoms similar to those of a urinary tract infection — urinary frequency, urgency and pain — without evidence of infection.

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic, severely debilitating, inflammatory condition of the bladder of unknown cause.  It is primarily a disease in women and is found in 4% to 10% of women with Sjögren’s.  Since interstitial cystitis is a complex disease, it is best treated by a urogynecologist or urologist with expertise in this disease.

Diagnostic evaluation usually includes a urinalysis and culture, cystoscopy (insertion of a small scope in the bladder), biopsy of the bladder wall, and distention of the bladder under anesthesia. A variety of treatments may alleviate symptoms and include dietary modification, pelvic floor exercises, bladder training techniques, instillation of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) into the bladder, smoking cessation, electrical stimulation using TENS, and analgesics or other medications.

*article comprised of excerpts from “The Sjögren’s Book” and mayoclinic.org

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