What is Interstitial cystitis?

What is Interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition causing bladder pressure, bladder pain and sometimes pelvic pain. The pain ranges from mild discomfort to severe pain and is included as part of a spectrum of diseases known as painful bladder syndrome.

Interstitial cystitis, although not an extremely serious condition, can have an adverse effect on day-to-day activities and quality of life. Check out our guide to Interstitial cystitis, as well as some handy tips to help control its symptoms.

What is Interstitial cystitis?

Your bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that stores urine. The bladder expands until it’s full and then signals your brain that it’s time to urinate, communicating through the pelvic nerves. This creates the urge to urinate for most people. When someone has interstitial cystitis, these signals get mixed up —creating a feeling of the need to urinate more often and with smaller volumes of urine than most people.


Interstitial cystitis has a range of signs and symptoms which can change in type and severity over time. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain in your pelvis or between the vagina and anus in women
  • Pain between the scrotum and anus in men (perineum)
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • A persistent, urgent need to urinate
  • Frequent urination, often of small amounts, throughout the day and night (up to 60 times a day)
  • Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills and relief after urinating.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.


If you experience any symptoms of interstitial cystitis it is important to see a healthcare professional. Most likely, you will be referred to a urologist who can diagnose and help treat the condition. A medical examination may include a series of questions about your medical history, your experience of the symptoms, as well as any prescription medication you may be on. A physical examination may be involved whereby a doctor may feel your abdomen, the organs in your pelvis, and your rectum to help diagnose symptoms. Other tests may include a cystoscopy, biopsy or urine test; however, diagnosing interstitial cystitis should be relatively simple and straightforward.


There are a number of treatments available, and your doctor will recommend one or more based on your unique needs. Treatments include:

  • physical therapy 
  • prescription medication 
  • bladder distention
  • nerve stimulation treatment 
  • bladder reconstruction/ urinary diversion surgery 

Dealing with Interstitial Cystitis

Stress does not cause Interstitial cystitis, but it can cause a flare. There are a few things you can do to look after yourself and minimise the intensity of your flares. Some things you can do include:

  • physical activity 
  • hot baths
  • massage
  • counselling 
  • reaching out for support from family and friends

It is important to talk to a trusted professional when it comes to your health. If you have any questions about OAB, or would like to book an appointment, please feel free to contact or call Dr Arianayagam’s office on 1300 307 990 and his staff will be able to assist.

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