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What is Interstitial Cystitis (IC)?
|Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a complex condition of the bladder, which can cause bladder pain and urinary symptoms, such as frequent voiding (feeling like you want to go to the toilet a lot) and urgency. It occurs more commonly in women compared to men, and about one third of women are less than 30 years old when symptoms first start.|
What are the symptoms?
|Symptoms can include pelvic pain or discomfort, which is often related to bladder filling, frequent voiding or a constant painful desire to void. Less common symptoms include pain with sexual intercourse, and pain in the vagina, urethra or vulva.|
What causes IC?
|The exact cause of IC is unknown. Researchers are working towards a better understanding of this condition, but possibilities include a defect in the protective lining of the bladder, infection, inflammation, a problem with the immune system or blood vessel abnormalities. |
How is IC diagnosed?
|To make a diagnosis your doctor will take a history of your symptoms, perform a physical examination and organise investigations to rule out other causes, such as a bladder infection. Investigations often include a urine test and a cystoscopy, which is a small telescope used to look inside the bladder. |
|The cystoscopy is usually performed under general anaesthetic (you are put to sleep), as a day procedure and a sample of tissue (biopsy) from the bladder may be taken at the same time.|
Is there a cure for IC ?
|Although there is no cure for IC, the condition is not cancerous and is usually not progressive. In some women, symptoms improve on their own, over time, but in others treatment may be needed. |
What treatment is available?
|Treatment of IC is aimed at relieving your symptoms, rather than a ‘cure’.|
|There are different medical treatment options available. Approximately 50% of women with IC will improve with medical treatment but symptoms may recur with time. Medical treatment includes, heparin in the bladder and tablets such as Amitriptyline or Elmiron, which can be discussed with your doctor.|
|Bladder training and pelvic floor exercises with a physiotherapist or continence advisor is important, particularly if you have urinary symptoms such as frequency or urgency. Other physiotherapy treatments with a physiotherapist may also be offered. |
|Some women experience an improvement in their symptoms following distention of the bladder with water during cystoscopy (cystodistension) but other forms of surgery are required only in rare circumstances.|
|Some women find that certain foods make their symptoms worse, such as acidic, alcoholic or carbonated beverages, spicy foods or caffeine, and may benefit from changes in their diet, although there is no scientific evidence for this.|
|If you experience complications after you leave hospital please see your local doctor or you may attend the Emergency Department at the Royal Women’s Hospital (03) 8345 3636 or your closest emergency department.|
|Australian Interstitial Cystitis Support Group|
|PO Box 767, Kingswood 2747|
|The Interstitial Cystitis Association |
|Web: http://www.ichelp.org |
|The International Painful Bladder Association|
|Related fact sheets|
|The Royal Women’s Hospital does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided in this fact sheet or incorporated into it by reference. We provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.|
|Last updated Jan 2008.Reviewed Jun 2011|