The following is a summary of the “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 pain, together with pelvic muscle tightness, urgency, frequency, and dysuria, are the hallmarks of Interstitial Cystitis/ Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS). Transvaginal photobiomodulation (TV-PBM) had been shown in prior research to lessen discomfort in women who experience chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Therefore, for a study, researchers sought to gather early information on treatment effectiveness and adherence in women with IC/BPS who chose TV-PBM therapy to treat pelvic pain.

Women with IC/BPS in 17 US practices who received TV-PBM were the subjects of a before-and-after observational cohort study. A 0–10 numeric rating scale (NRS) was used to quantify pain. The main result was a minimum clinical significant difference (MCID), which was a ≥2 NRS point decrease in total pelvic pain intensity from baseline to 8 sessions. Cohen’s d coefficient (low effect size d<0.2, medium 0.2<d<0.8, and high d>0.8) estimated effect size.

Over 140 patients with IC/BPS who self-selected to begin TV-PBM therapy had a completion rate of 89.3% (n=125) for 4 treatments and 59.3% (n=83) for 8 sessions. After 8 sessions, an improvement of ≥1 NRS point was reported by 73.5% (n=61), and a substantial improvement of ≥2 points was recorded by 63.9% (n=53). Patients with severe or moderate pain reduced in this group from 83.1% (n=44) to 38.5% (n=20); P<0.001. The following pain scores decreased: general pelvic pain (MCID=-2.7, d=1.07), pain with urine (MCID=-2.6, d=1.0), pain with exercise (MCID=-2.6, d=0.91), and pain with sexual activity (MCID=-2.5, d=0.82).

2/3 of IC/BPS patients who chose to receive TV-PBM therapy in actual clinical settings reported a substantial reduction in pelvic discomfort and dysuria. Although the results were encouraging, further research had to be done.