Interstitial cystitis (IC), one of the chronic pelvic pain disorders, is a condition resulting in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region.
In Interstitial Cystitis, the bladder wall may be irritated and become scarred or stiff. Some people with IC find that their bladders cannot hold much urine, which increases the frequency of urination. Frequency, however, is not always specifically related to bladder size; many people with severe frequency have normal bladder capacity. People with severe cases of IC may urinate as many as 40 to 50 times a day.
Also, people with IC often experience pain during sexual intercourse. IC is far more common in women than in men.
The definite cause of IC is not known, one theory being studied is that IC is an autoimmune response following a bladder infection.
Diagnostic tests that help identify other conditions include urinalysis, urine culture, cystoscopy, biopsy of the bladder wall, distension of the bladder under anaesthesia, urine cytology, and, in men, laboratory examination of prostate secretions.
Because the causes of Interstitial Cystitis are unknown, current treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms. Most people are helped for variable periods by one or a combination of treatments. As researchers learn more about Interstitial Cystitis, the list of potential treatments will change, so patients should discuss their options with a doctor.