Interstitial Cystitis

What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition that causes mild to severe pain and discomfort in the bladder and pelvis.

With interstitial cystitis, the signals from your bladder to your brain get mixed up, causing you to feel the frequent urge to urinate with only a little volume of urine in your bladder.

Although the exact cause is unknown, women over the age of 30 seem to be at an increased risk. Chronic pain disorders like irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia are also associated with interstitial cystitis.

What are the symptoms of interstitial cystitis?

There is a wide range of symptoms that can signal interstitial cystitis. Symptoms can vary in intensity and can be triggered by things like menstruation, stress, exercise, and sexual activity. Symptoms include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Persistent urge to urinate
  • Painful intercourse
  • Frequent urination with little volume
  • Pain when the bladder is full
  • Pain between the scrotum and anus
  • Pain between the vagina and anus

Although men can be diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, their symptoms typically signal other conditions like prostatitis. Patients with interstitial cystitis often experience periods free of symptoms.

How is interstitial cystitis diagnosed?

Because the symptoms of interstitial cystitis are so varied and mimic other conditions, it’s often difficult to diagnose.

The urology experts at Skyline Urology perform in-depth evaluations to provide patients with accurate diagnoses. In addition to a physical exam, your doctor may also perform:

  • Urine test
  • Pelvic Exam
  • Biopsy
  • Cystoscopy

Your provider will also discuss your medical history to rule out other contributing factors and conditions.

How is interstitial cystitis treated?

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for interstitial cystitis. You work together with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that’s best for your condition.

Although there is no cure for interstitial cystitis, there are a number of methods used to manage and minimize symptoms. These include:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can help you relieve pain associated with the tissues and muscles of the pelvic floor.


Several prescription and over-the-counter medications can be used to reduce pain and control inflammation. Antihistamines can also be used to reduce urinary frequency.

Nerve stimulation therapy

Nerve stimulation therapy can be used to improve the communication between your bladder, nerves, and brain. This can help relieve pain and restore bladder control