What Is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition characterized by pain and pressure in the bladder and a frequent urge to urinate. It is sometimes called painful bladder syndrome or frequency-urgency-dysuria syndrome.

In interstitial cystitis, the bladder wall becomes inflamed and irritated. Over time, the bladder can become stiff and scarred, making it difficult to stretch to hold urine. Patients with severe interstitial cystitis may need to urinate 50 or 60 times a day.

In women, the symptoms may worsen during their periods. In men, there may also be pain in the penis and scrotum.

In addition to chronic pain, interstitial cystitis can result in sleep disruption, reduced quality of life, sexual issues and depression. The condition is more common in women, with estimates as high as 8 million women in the U.S. with interstitial cystitis. The average age of onset is in the 30s or 40s.