The following is the summary of “Transvaginal Photobiomodulation Improves Pain in Women with Pelvic Muscle Tenderness and Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome: A Preliminary Observational Study” published in the December 2022 issue of Urology by Butrick, et al.

Pelvic/bladder discomfort, tenderness in the pelvic muscles, urinar urgency/frequency/dysuria, and dysuria are the hallmarks of Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS). TV-PBM has been shown to alleviate chronic pelvic discomfort in women in previous trials (CPP). Their primary goal was to collect preliminary information on treatment efficacy and adherence in IC/BPS patients who opted to use TV-PBM therapy for the relief of pelvic pain. Women with IC/BPS who were treated with TV-PBM in 17 different clinics across the United States: a prospective cohort study. The severity of pain was quantified on a numeric rating scale (NRS) from 0 to 10. 

An improvement in global pelvic pain of at least  ≥2 NRS points from baseline to after 8 sessions was considered the primary outcome  was a minimal clinical important difference (MCID) The effect size was determined using the Cohen d coefficient (small d0.2, moderate 0.2<d<0.8, and large d>0.8). About 89% (n=125) of the 140 patients with IC/BPS who voluntarily began TV-PBM therapy finished at least 4 sessions, and 59% (n=83) finished at least 8. After 8 treatments, 73.5 % (n=61) of patients reported an improvement of at least  ≥1 NRS point, and 63.9% (n=53) reported a substantial improvement of at least ( ≥2 points). In this subset, the proportion of patients reporting moderate to severe pain dropped from 83.1% (n=44) to 38.5% (n=20); (P<0.001). Overall pelvic pain (MCID=-2.7, d=1.07); urination pain (MCID=-2.6, d=1.0); exercise pain (MCID=-2.6, d=0.91); and sexual activity pain (MCID=-2.5, d=0.82).

About 2/3 of IC/BPS patients who underwent TV-PBM therapy in a real-world clinical setting reported a substantial reduction in pelvic pain and dysuria. These results show promise, but more rigorous testing is required.