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Interstitial Cystitis Symptoms

By the Mayo Clinic Staff


The signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis vary from person to person. If you have interstitial cystitis, your symptoms may also vary over time, periodically flaring in response to common triggers, such as menstruation, sitting for a long time, stress, exercise and sexual activity.


Interstitial cystitis signs and symptoms include:


  • Pain in your pelvis or between the vagina and anus in women or between the scrotum and anus in men (perineum).
  • Chronic pelvic pain.
  • A persistent, urgent need to urinate.
  • Frequent urination, often of small amounts, throughout the day and night. People with severe interstitial cystitis may urinate as often as 60 times a day.
  • Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills and relief after urinating.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

The severity of symptoms caused by interstitial cystitis often varies, and some people may experience periods during which symptoms disappear.


Although signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis may resemble those of a chronic urinary tract infection, urine cultures are usually free of bacteria. -However, symptoms may worsen if a person with interstitial cystitis gets a urinary tract infection.

AUA Guideline Treatment Protocol

Introduction to the AUA Guidelines for IC/BPS The new six step treatment protocol for interstitial cystitis released in 2011 by the American Urology Association

Questions Worth Asking Your Doctor Confused about what to ask your doctor? Here's a list of questions you should ask as you discuss potential treatments, including: risk of side effects, success vs. failure rate, costs, etc.

Step Three: Third Line Therapies

Step Four: Fourth Line Therapies

Step Five: Fifth Line Therapies

Step Six: Sixth Line Therapies

Other Therapies

OTC Neutraceuticals & Supplements

In Step One of the AUA Guidelines, the use of OTC neutraceuticals is encouraged. Though they do not recommend brand names, several supplements are routinely suggested by practicing clinicians including:

Suggested Reading

References for Professionals

Books For Patients

  • IC Survival Guide ? Written by Robert Moldwin MD, this book discusses, in depth, traditional IC therapies and pain care.
  • Heal Pelvic Pain ? Written by Amy Stein PT, this book is ideal for men and women who are struggling with pelvic floor dysfunction and/or pelvic pain.
  • Ending Female Pain ? Written by Isa Herrera PT, this book focuses on pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction in women
  • The Better Bladder Book ? Written by Wendy Cohen RN, this book discusses alternative and complementary strategies for treating IC, including the role of gluten sensitivity in triggering bladder irritation.

From the IC Network:

Finding Bladder Friendly Foods

If you are newly diagnosed and your bladder symptoms are raging, you may be in so much discomfort that you simply can't tell if foods irritate your bladder. Diet modification is a critical first step in gaining control over your symptoms. Ask yourself would you pour coffee on an open wound on your hand?? The answer, of course, is no. Then how can you justify pouring acid on a wound in your bladder? It's time to take charge of your diet to protect and soothe your bladder.

For the next three to six months, you should be modifying your diet to give your bladder wall an opportunity to calm down and, ideally, heal. One week or two weeks is not long enough. It takes weeks if not months for the bladder to have an opportunity to heal as well as for inflammation to be reduced. So, using the IC Food Lists for one or two weeks is simply not long enough. You'll also need to do quite a bit of experimentation and perhaps even an elimination diet as you create your own, personalized food list.

Research Study Derived Lists

Start with the foods that research studies have determined to be either the more bothersome and less bothersome foods for IC patients. Table 1 includes the most bothersome foods which you should remove immediately from your diet. In Table 2, you will find foods which IC patients were generally able to enjoy without irritating their bladders provided, of course, that you don't add risk foods to them (i.e. hot spicy sauces). Obviously, there are a lot of foods that are not covered by this list that you will find covered in the next list.

The ICN Food List

When you're ready to expand your diet, the ICN Food List will help you choose foods that may be more bladder friendly. This diet list replaces old, outdated lists. The 2012 ICN Food list is the most current and combines information from patients and research studies into a comprehensive, alphabetized list of foods, offering bladder friendly, try it and caution variations of foods. A major goal of this document is to provide a list of foods for those patients who find themselves confused and/or afraid to eat. This new guide is a thirteen page document in printer friendly pdf format. To download your copy, please click the image below or the following link:

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