Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that causes discomfort or pain in the bladder and pelvic region. It is also known as painful bladder syndrome, bladder pain syndrome or chronic pelvic pain.
IC is more common in women than in men. In fact, IC affects up to 8 million women and 1 million men in the U.S.
In some people, IC symptoms come and go, but for others, the problem is constant. Symptoms of IC may include:
- Pelvic pain, pressure or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region
- Urinary urgency (feeling a strong need to go) and frequency (needing to go often)
- Symptoms that last for more than 6 weeks
- Negative results from lab tests to check for infections
IC symptoms are similar to a bladder infection, but IC does not respond to antibiotics.
No one knows what causes IC, but some researchers believe certain "triggers" may harm the bladder and potentially lead to IC. These triggers may include bacterial infections, spinal cord trauma, inflammation of the pelvic nerves and autoimmune disorders.
If you think you have IC, contact your healthcare provider for an evaluation. They will review your medical history and symptoms, as well as perform a physical exam.
IC treatment options may involve lifestyle changes, medications or other therapies. Oral prescription medications or nerve stimulation may help relieve symptoms. Some people may opt for lifestyle changes.
These can involve such diet changes as reducing or eliminating caffeine, carbonated and citrus drinks because they may bother the bladder.
Bladder training is one more option. That is when you learn to urinate or "void" on a set schedule -- not when your bladder tells you to. Surgery is rarely used to treat IC.
Remember, if you are living with IC, there is hope. Work with your health care provider to find a plan that is right for you. Learn more about Interstitial Cystitis.