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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.


What Is Interstitial Cystitis?Cistitis intersticial

What Is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic and painful condition of the bladder. People with IC have a bladder wall that is tender and easily irritated, leading to uncomfortable symptoms. Although IC currently has no cure, the symptoms can be managed to help you feel better and live more comfortably. 

Cutaway views of bladder

When You Have IC

The bladder stores urine (your body's liquid waste) until it's passed out of the body. What happens in the bladder to cause IC is not clear, but some changes have been observed. The protective lining that keeps urine away from the bladder walls may become thinner. The walls may stiffen and harden so the bladder can't expand to hold urine. During certain tests, pinpoints of bleeding (glomerulations) may be seen on the bladder wall. Rarely, a crater (called a Hunner's ulcer) may also be found.

Symptoms of IC

  • The frequent and urgent need to urinate

  • Pain or pressure in the bladder area, often relieved for a short time after urinating

  • Pain in the genitals or anus

  • Painful sexual intercourse

Symptoms in women may get worse during their period. Symptoms may go away for a period of time (remission), but they often come back again.

Possible Causes of IC

  • Damage to the protective bladder lining, allowing urine to irritate the bladder wall

  • Infection of the bladder

  • Allergic reaction in the bladder

  • Neurological (nerve) problems

  • Substances found in the urine that are irritating to the bladder

Date Last Reviewed: 2005-09-16T00:00:00-06:00

Date Last Modified: 2005-09-16T00:00:00-06:00


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