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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Interstitial Cystisis/Painful Bladder Syndrome

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. The symptoms vary from case to case and change over time for the individual. People may experience mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area, an urgent need to urinate or a combination of these symptoms. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women who suffer from IC may find symptoms get worse during menstruation or experience pain during vaginal intercourse.

Because IC varies so much in symptoms and severity, most researchers believe it is not one, but several diseases. In recent years, scientists have started to use the terms bladder pain syndrome (BPS) or painful bladder syndrome (PBS) to describe cases with painful urinary symptoms that may not meet the strictest definition of IC. The term IC/PBS includes all cases of urinary pain that cannot be attributed to other causes, such as infection or urinary stones. The term interstitial cystitis, or IC, is used alone when describing cases that meet all of the IC criteria established by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Treatment may include:

  • Dietary/behavioral modifications
  • Pelvic floor rehabilitation
  • Oral medications, including pentdsan polysulfate sodium (Ermiron), anti-inflammatories and neuromodulator drugs
  • Bladder installation therapy
  • Electrical nerve stimulation
Last UpdateJanuary 10, 2012