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Living with Interstitial Cystitis

Living with interstitial cystitis can be a very challenging condition. Finding interstitial cystitis treatment is difficult as there is no cure, only treatments that provide some relief. This frustrating disease can impact your daily life and make enjoying the activities you love hard. 

Interstitial cystitis makes sleeping difficult due to frequent trips to the restroom throughout the night. This disease can also prevent you from exercising and sometimes even working. Interstitial cystitis causes constant interruptions to your day by causing you to need to urinate excessively. In addition to having to urinate between up to forty and sixty times a day, urination may also be painful. Interstitial cystitis can take over your life as it forces you to run to the bathroom often and urgently throughout your day. 

Having to urinate frequently and painfully is not the only frustrating aspect of interstitial cystitis. The symptoms are often changing from week to week, making it difficult to diagnose and even treat. You may feel confusion and uncertainty about what your body is going through. 

Interstitial Cystitis Overview

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder problem that is also known as painful bladder syndrome. This frustrating and uncomfortable condition causes frequent urination that is also painful. Some patients with this disease find themselves urinating between forty and sixty times a day, which is disruptive and even demoralizing at times. 


  • Pain in your lower stomach lower back, and pelvis
  • Bladder pressure that worsens bladder is full
  • Women may experience pain in the vulva or vagina
  • Men may experience pain in the scrotum, testicles, penis
  • Need to urinate more than seven to eight times a day 
  • Pain during sex
  • Feeling as if you need to urinate even after you just went
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Only being able to urinate a small amount

Interstitial cystitis pain can be anything from a dull ache to severe pain. People who suffer from this disease have inflammation in their bladder, and some may experience bladder ulcers. You may also find that your period, certain foods, and even stress can exacerbate your symptoms. 

Causes of Interstitial Cystitis

Several causes of interstitial cystitis may include a problem with bladder tissue, inflammation, urine that contains something that can damage your bladder, a nerve problem, or your immune system attacks your bladder. 

Interstitial Cystitis Diagnosis

Diagnosing interstitial cystitis can be very difficult. The symptoms that are common with interstitial cystitis can sometimes present as other conditions like kidney infections, certain types of sexually transmitted diseases, and even bladder cancer. When diagnosing interstitial cystitis, your doctor will first want to rule out these other conditions. 

A urinalysis can determine some of the other conditions that interstitial cystitis is mistaken for. Doctors can also use a variety of other tests to assess your condition. A test for postvoid residual urine volume uses ultrasound to measure the amount of urine left in your bladder after you use the restroom. Cytoscopy, and a bladder or urethra biopsy are other means of ruling out bladder conditions when diagnosing interstitial cystitis. 

Interstitial Cystitis Treatments

Finding interstitial cystitis treatments can be challenging. The main focus of treating this disease is managing symptoms. Occasionally, interstitial cystitis ends up going away on its own without treatment. For other cases, controlling symptoms is the best option for treatment. 

Lifestyle Changes

Several lifestyle changes may provide relief from this uncomfortable condition. You can work to retrain your bladder to hold more urine. Increase the time gradually between urination to train your bladder to hold more urine. Stress can also contribute to interstitial cystitis. Ensure you’re taking care of yourself and spending some time winding down and relax. De-stressing can lead to other health benefits as well. 

Keep track of foods or beverages that may be irritating to your condition. If you notice your symptoms are worsening, think about what you may have eaten and if it’s possible it is contributing to exacerbating your symptoms. Foods that may cause symptoms to worsen include:

  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus 
  • Caffeine
  • Spicy food
  • Alcohol

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy may help you to relax your pelvic muscles and alleviate pain. 


Prescription drugs, such as amitriptyline, can help control bladder spasms. Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that may help fight the need to urinate throughout the night, enabling you to sleep better. Steroids are sometimes useful for bladder ulcers. Your doctor can work with you to determine the best course of medication to manage your pain and symptoms. 


In rare cases where lifestyle changes and medications do not work, your health care provider may recommend surgery. 

Final Remarks

Interstitial cystitis is a frustrating and often painful condition. The disruption in your daily activity can prove challenging. Working closely with your doctor will help you to find a treatment plan that is effective for your pain and symptoms. While there is no cure for interstitial cystitis, controlling symptoms and managing pain is possible with lifestyle changes or medication. 

Establishing a treatment plan with your health care provider will allow you to live your life pain-free, as well as avoid the inconvenience this condition causes. With the right care, you can effectively take control of this disease. 

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