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What Causes IC/BPS?

Experts do not know exactly what causes IC/BPS, but there are many theories, such as:

  • A defect in the bladder tissue, which may allow irritating substances in the urine to penetrate the bladder.

  • A specific type of inflammatory cell, called a mast cell. This cell releases histamine and other chemicals that lead to IC/BPS symptoms.

  • Something in the urine that damages the bladder.

  • Changes in the nerves that carry bladder sensations so pain is caused by events that are not normally painful (such as bladder filling).

  • The body's immune system attacks the bladder. This is similar to other autoimmune conditions..

No specific behaviors (such as smoking) are known to increase your risk of IC. Having a family member with IC/BPS may increase your risk of getting IC/BPS. Patients with IC/BPS may have a substance in the urine that inhibits the growth of cells in the bladder tissue. So, some people may be more likely to get IC/BPS after an injury to the bladder, such as an infection.