What is Interstitial Cystitis (IC)?
Interstitial cystitis (in-ter-stish-uhl sĭ-stī’tĭs), or as we call it, IC, is a bladder condition that usually consists of multiple symptoms. Most IC patients have recurring pelvic pain, pressure, or discomfort in the bladder and pelvic region, and urinary frequency (needing to go often) and urgency (feeling a strong need to go).
IC may also be referred to as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS), and chronic pelvic pain. Read more about these different names for IC.
Types of IC
Researchers continue to study IC and investigate why IC symptoms can be different in different patients. Many believe that there may be additional subtypes, called phenotypes, of IC. This also helps to explain why there is such disparity in how IC patients respond to treatments. Of note is the national phenotyping initiative called the MAPP Research Network, which is supported by NIDDK, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Currently there are two recognized subtypes of IC: non-ulcerative and ulcerative.
- Non-ulcerative: 90% of IC patients have the non-ulcerative form of IC. Non-ulcerative IC presents with pinpoint hemorrhages, also known as glomerulations, in the bladder wall. However, these are not specific for IC and any inflammation of the bladder can give that appearance.
- Ulcerative: 5 to 10% of IC patients have the ulcerative form of IC. These patients usually have Hunner’s ulcers or patches, which are red, bleeding areas on the bladder wall.
End Stage (Severe) IC
About 5% of IC patients have persistent symptoms for more than 2 years and 5% of patients have end stage disease defined as very hard bladders with low capacity and terrible pain. Many of these patients also have Hunner’s ulcers. Learn more about how to treat severe IC. Watch the ICHelp YouTube interview with internationally-known IC expert Kristene Whitmore, MD, from the Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute (PSHI).
Learn More About IC
- Donate to ICA to receive access to valuable and informative resources that will keep you abreast of the latest IC research, news, and ICA announcements.
- Subscribe to the ICHelp YouTube Channel.
- Follow ICHelp on Twitter.
- Get an overview of IC from Dr. Robert Moldwin, director of the Pelvic Pain Center at the Arthur Smith Institute for Urology in New Hyde Park, NY.
- Ask the ICA your questions about IC.
- Check out the Interstitial Cystitis Reading Lists.
- Read the ICA Voices of Hope Blog.
- Join the discussions on the ICA Facebook Community and ICA’s Online Support Community.
- Join a Support Group.
- Check out ICA’s Virtual Patient Education resources.
Revised Friday, January 9th, 2015