Women & ICAlthough interstitial cystitis (IC) can affect both women and men, girls and boys, it has traditionally been considered a “women’s disease.” For both sexes, many of the challenges of IC are similar, even with intimacy-related pain.

But women do have some challenges of their own in getting an IC diagnosis, controlling pain, communicating with physicians, managing IC during pregnancy, and undergoing pelvic exams.

Diagnosing IC in women can be challenging because its symptoms overlap with other more common conditions in women, especially urinary tract infections (UTIs). IC symptoms can also overlap with those of overactive bladder (OAB), endometriosis, pelvic congestion syndrome, pudendal neuralgia, pelvic floor dysfunction, and other conditions. In addition, women may have one or more of these conditions in addition to IC.

Pain research shows that women have more severe, frequent, and long lasting pain than men for similar conditions. Laboratory studies bear out the observation that women feel more pain and also feel it more quickly and discriminate it better than men. Although women may need pain control more than men, they are more often perceived as anxious rather than in pain and are less likely to receive adequate pain control than men do, as research in heart disease, cancer, and other medical fields show.

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Revised Saturday, January 12th, 2019