What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder condition that causes pain and pressure in the bladder as well as pelvic pain. The condition is also known as painful bladder syndrome. Women are most often affected by this condition, however, men can develop it too. Having interstitial cystitis is usually long-term and can negatively affect your quality of life. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the condition. But there are a number of treatment options to manage the condition and help relieve some of the symptoms.


People feel the urge to urinate once their bladder expands to the point of being full. This sends a signal to the brain to tell your bladder to urinate. However, interstitial cystitis causes these signals to be disrupted. With this condition, you are more likely to feel the urge to urinate when your bladder is less full.

The signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis may vary. Signs and symptoms of the condition may vary depending on other things going on that can initiate your symptoms to appear. Things that may initiate signs or symptoms include stress, exercise, menstruation, or sexual activity. The signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis may include pain in the pelvis, pain between the vagina and anus in women or between the scrotum and anus in men, chronic pelvic pain, a persistent and urgent need to urinate, frequent urination (small amounts throughout the day and night), pain or discomfort while the bladder fills and relief after urinating, and pain during sexual intercourse. People with severe interstitial cystitis may urinate as often as sixty times a day.

The risk factors that increase your risk of developing interstitial cystitis include:

·         Sex. Women are more likely to develop interstitial cystitis than men. Men may have similar symptoms, however this is usually a result of a prostate infection called prostatitis.

·         Age. Most people are diagnosed with interstitial cystitis in their 30s or older.

·         Chronic pain disorder. Interstitial cystitis may be associated with having another chronic pain disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia.

Your doctor may use a number of tests to diagnose the condition. Tests to diagnose interstitial cystitis may include taking a medical history and bladder diary, a pelvic exam, a urine test, a potassium sensitivity test, a cystoscopy, or a biopsy. Treatment for interstitial cystitis may include physical therapy, medications, nerve stimulation, bladder distension, instilling medications into the bladder, or surgery.