Interstitial Cystitis

Partners in Pelvic Health
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What is IC?

IC, which is short for "Interstitial Cystitis," is a condition that leads to chronic inflammation of the bladder. This can be painful and causes pressure above the pubic area. The inflammation occurs on the lining of the bladder, which results in swelling of the pelvic organ.

What are the symptoms of interstitial cystitis?

Patients with IC may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Chronic pain and discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Excessive urination of small amounts
  • Night-time urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse
These symptoms are common to those of a bladder infection (UTI), but can be determined as a separate condition when urine tests confirm that there is no bacteria in the urinary tract. This sets IC apart from common UTI conditions.

What causes interstitial cystitis?

It is unknown specifically what causes a patient to develop IC. It is believed that a miscommunication between the nerves of the pelvic area and the brain signals one’s need to urinate. The irritation of the bladder wall may be from a defect of the epithelium, the lining of the bladder meant to protect the organ. Toxic substances that occur in the urine may cause irritation. Although unproven, medical professionals also believe that genetics, infections, allergies, and autoimmune reactions can lead to the development and progression of IC. Age, sexual intercourse, and other chronic disorders may increase one’s risk for developing this condition.

What tests are completed to confirm a diagnosis?

To determine if a patient is suffering from IC, Dr. Gandhi of Partners in Pelvic Health North Shore Urogynecology may consider using several tests. Before performing a complete pelvic exam, he may ask patients to describe their symptoms as well as how much they urinate (in relationship to how much fluids they drink) on a day-to-day basis. This helps determine if the amount of urine being passed is within a normal range or excessive. Dr. Gandhi can perform potassium sensitivity tests, a urinalysis, cystoscopy, and biopsy for further confirmation.

How can a patient treat IC?

Dr. Gandhi can assist patients in finding relief for the symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Patients may consider oral medications, nerve stimulation, bladder distention, or surgery to reduce or eliminate symptoms and discomfort related to this condition.