Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome

What is IC?

The waters have certainly been muddied over the years with regard to changes in definitions and terminology. For our purposes here, we have chosen to use:

Interstitial Cystitis – this terminology has been reserved for the disease in which Hunner’s Ulcers have been observed on the bladder wall.1 (This is the minority of patients who fall under the double category of IC/BPS or approximately 5-10% of patients).

Bladder Pain Syndrome – refers to “an unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure, discomfort) perceived to be related to the urinary bladder, associated with lower urinary tract symptoms for more than six weeks duration, in the absence of infection or other identifiable causes.”

Women: 3 to 8 million women in the United States may have IC. That is about 3 to 6% of all women in the US.

Men: 1 to 4 million men have IC as well, however, this number is likely lower than the true rate because IC in men may often be mistaken for another disorder, such as chronic prostatitis/pelvic pain syndrome.

Children: Many adults comment that their IC symptoms started in childhood. Pediatricians also diagnose children with this chronic condition. But, epidemiology studies have not yet been done to estimate the true prevalence of children with IC


Some or all of these symptoms may be present:

Frequency – Day and/or night frequency of urination (up to 60 times a day in severe cases). In early or very mild cases, frequency is sometimes the only symptom.

Urgency – The sensation of having to urinate immediately, which may also be accompanied by pain, pressure or spasms.

Pain – Can be in the lower abdominal, urethral or vaginal area. Pain is also frequently associated with sexual intercourse. Men with IC may experience testicular, scrotal and/or perineal pain, and painful ejaculation.

Other Disorders

Some patients also report muscle and joint pain, migraines, allergic reactions and gastrointestinal problems, as well as the more common symptoms of IC described above. It appears that IC has an as yet unexplained association with certain other chronic diseases and pain syndromes such as vulvar vestibulitis, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. Many IC patients, however, have only bladder symptoms.

Interstitial Cystitis Association (May 2017,

1 van de Merwe, Nordling, Bouchelouche et al. (2008) as cited in Can Urol Assoc J 2016;10(5-6):E136-55.
Published online May 12, 2016.

2 Society for Urodynamics and Female Urology (2009) as cited in Can Urol Assoc J 2016;10(5-6):E136-55.
Published online May 12, 2016.