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Healthcare: Women's Health & Maternity

Interstitial Cystitis (Painful Bladder Syndrome)

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What is interstitial cystitis?

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Interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, is chronic inflammation or irritation of the bladder wall.

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What are the symptoms of interstitial cystitis?

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Symptoms, which may come on suddenly, disappear and then reappear again, may include:

  • Painful urination (dysuria)
  • Frequent need to urinate (as often as every 10 minutes)
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Pressure or pain in the bladder and pelvic area
  • Reduced bladder capacity
  • Painful sexual intercourse
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What causes interstitial cystitis?

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The cause of interstitial cystitis is not yet known, however researchers continue to work on discovering both the cause and the most effective treatments possible.

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How is interstitial cystitis diagnosed?

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Because there is no definitive test for diagnosing interstitial cystitis, your physician will start by ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as urinary tract infections or endometriosis, both common causes of pelvic pain in women.

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How is interstitial cystitis treated?

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Because the cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown, treatments are aimed at relieving the patient's symptoms. Treatment strategies include:

  • Patient education and lifestyle changes - Including dietary changes, increased exercise and avoiding smoking
  • Bladder training - To reduce frequency of voiding and lengthen the time between voiding
  • Bladder distention - Stretching the bladder to capacity by filling it with fluid. While typically used to diagnose the condition, many patients find their symptoms improve after the procedure therefore it is also used as therapy.
  • Bladder instillation (bladder wash or bath) - The bladder is filled with a solution that is held for varying periods of time, typically 10 to 15 minutes, before being emptied
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
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Texas Children’s MyChart

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Easy, convenient access to your obstetrics and gynecology medical records. Learn more.