Researchers at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine said they believe the symptoms -- pelvic pain and an urgent need to frequently urinate -- are being provoked by food. During a flare up, the pelvic pain is so intense some women administer anesthetic lidocaine directly into their bladders via a catheter to get relief and some feel an urgent need to urinate up to 50 times a day.
Principal investigator David Klumpp said the scientists believe the colon's central role in the pain is caused by the wiring of pelvic organ nerves. Nerves from this region -- the bladder, colon and prostate -- are bunched together like telephone wires and plug into the same region of the spinal cord near the tailbone.
The researchers said their pepperoni pizza hypothesis opens up new treatment possibilities for "painful bladder syndrome," or interstitial cystitis, a condition that primarily affects women.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Clinical Practice Urology.
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