Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis

What is Interstitial Cystitis? Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS), is an inflammatory condition of the bladder.  This condition is painful and is caused by inflammation of the tissues of bladder wall.  The most common symptoms of IC include: increased frequency of urination, pelvic pain, and urinary discomfort.  It is important to note that these symptoms are present despite the absence of bacterial infection, sexually transmitted diseases, and other bladder issues.  IC affects both men and women; however, women are more likely to have IC than men.

The specific symptoms vary vastly between individuals; especially the pain experienced by individuals suffering with IC.  IC can be severely painful and incapacitating to the person suffering.  Pain can manifest itself in the lower abdomen, urethra, or vagina.  Frequently the pain is associated with sexual intercourse and men with IC may experience testicular, scrotal and/or perinea pain, and painful ejaculation.

The exact cause of the disease is unknown and while it is a common disorder, it frequently goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  Frequently IC is misdiagnosed as a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or “common” bladder infection.  Because of the difficulties in correctly diagnosing IC individuals often go years without being correctly diagnosed.  Unfortunately this inaccurate prognosis can contribute to a host of psychological complications, including depression.

Since IC diagnosis is relatively subjective, many experts now agree that IC is actually several diseases rather than one disease. Currently there are two recognized subtypes of IC: non-ulcerative and ulcerative. Non-ulcerative is the most common subtype as this diagnosis represents 90% of IC patients. Non-ulcerative IC presents with glomerulations in the bladder wall; basically pinpoint hemorrhages. While the ulcerative subtype is much less common (5-10% of IC patients), patients present with Hunner’s ulcers or patches in the lining of the bladder wall.

IC can affect anyone and it is symptoms very from person to person, so if you think you or a loved one suffer from IC do not hesitate to seek help from a health care provider.  Also remember that despite the fact that the exact causes of the disease are unknown, there are several treatment options.  If you would like more information on the treatment of IC in sex therapy please see the linked tip.