Signs and Symptoms of IC

Interstitial cystitis manifests differently in different patients. For instance, some people experience chronic pelvic pain, while others do not. Symptoms may intensify as the bladder fills and diminish after urination.

Classic symptoms include the following:

  • Frequency – urination may exceed 60 times in a 24-hour period
  • Pain – chronic pelvic, vulvar, urethral, or abdominal discomfort during urination and sex
  • Urgency – sensation of having to urinate immediately, often accompanied by bladder pain, pressure, or spasm

Symptoms usually worsen within the first 5 years and then can level off. Patients with IC typically experience periods of symptom flare, or intensification, followed by periods of remission, when symptoms abate but rarely disappear.

For men, symptoms may include pain and inflammation of the prostate (e.g., prostatitis). Women may suffer increased vulvar pain, which is thought to be of neurogenic origin. Both men and women may experience pain in the perineum (space between the vagina or scrotum and the anus) and painful or uncomfortable sex, including intercourse and touching. For some men, ejaculation may be painful.

Interstitial Cystitis Complications

Because of its chronic nature, frequently delayed diagnosis, and the lack of a cure, IC causes psychological and social problems that can affect family, work, and lifestyle:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty traveling
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to enjoy usual activities
  • Insomnia
  • Panic disorder
  • Weight fluctuation and eating disorders

Publication Review By: David M. Kaufman, M.D., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015