under the covers with niki: interstitial cystitis

{This is our third post for our feature "Under the Covers with Niki." Today, she talks about Interstitial Cystitis which I had never heard of until now.}

What is Interstitial Cystitis? Is it sexually transmitted?

Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS), is an inflammatory condition of the bladder. It is not a sexually transmitted disease. This condition is painful and is caused by inflammation of the tissues of bladder wall. IC affects both men and women; however, women are more likely to have IC than men.

The most common symptoms of IC include: increased frequency of urination, pelvic pain, and urinary discomfort. Often these symptoms can be confused for with a bacterial infection, sexually transmitted diseases, and other bladder issues.

The specific symptoms vary vastly between individuals; especially the pain experienced by individuals suffering with IC. IC can be severely painful and incapacitating to the person suffering. Pain can manifest itself in the lower abdomen, urethra, or vagina. Frequently the pain is associated with sexual intercourse and men with IC may experience testicular, scrotal and/or perinea pain, and painful ejaculation.

The exact cause of the disease is unknown and while it is a common disorder, it frequently goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Frequently IC is misdiagnosed as a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or “common” bladder infection. Because of the difficulties in correctly diagnosing IC individuals often go years without being correctly diagnosed. Unfortunately this inaccurate prognosis can contribute to a host of psychological complications, including depression.

Since IC diagnosis is still relatively subjective many experts now agree that IC is actually several diseases, rather than one disease. If you are experiencing bladder pain or increased urinary frequency contact your doctor. To get the most out of your doctor’s appointment, come prepared with your symptoms so you can present an accurate picture for your doctor to understand. Here are some simple tacking exercises you can record and bring with you to the doctor:
1. Keep track of your symptoms. Include all symptoms that you are experiencing, even if you think they are unrelated.
2. Keep a list. Make a list of any medications you are currently taking. Also include any vitamin supplements. There are several things that may irritate the urinary tract, so it never hurts to double check!
3. Take a notebook. Write down important information during your visit. The doctors can be overwhelming, so a written reminder is helpful to have, especially if you seek treatment from another provider.
4. Ask questions. Prepare a list of questions that you have for your doctor (and you can bring them in on your notebook). It is common to forget specific questions once you are in the office and answering other questions so it is helpful to come prepared.

For more information on IC please check the ICA webpage, Google Health, and the webpage for the medication Elmiron.

{image from here}


  1. great post, very informative!


  2. One of my dearest friends has this and it is so terrible! I feel for anyone who suffers from IC, especially since the medications and treatments for it can aggravate other conditions.


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