Skip to content

Interstitial Cystitis

Make Appointments & Get Care

What is Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as Bladder Pain Syndrome, is a chronic condition that causes pain and pressure in the bladder area. In IC, the bladder wall becomes inflamed or irritated, affecting the amount of urine the bladder can hold.

IC is not the same as acute cystitis, a bacterial infection of the bladder that is the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI).

How Common is Interstitial Cystitis?

This condition is common in the US, affecting up to four million people assigned male at birth and eight million people assigned female at birth each year. It is not contagious and doesn’t spread in the body or worsen with time. Additionally, IC is not a known cause of bladder cancer.

Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis

Common symptoms range from mild discomfort, pressure, and tenderness to intense pain in the bladder and surrounding pelvic area. Everyone experiences symptoms differently — for some, they come and go unexpectedly (sometimes referred to as “bladder attacks”), while others experience long-lasting or chronic symptoms.

Other symptoms include:

  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Changes in pain intensity as the bladder fills or empties
  • Pain during sexual activity

IC can be associated with the following chronic pain conditions:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Vulvar vestibulitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

What Causes Interstitial Cystitis?

There is no known cause of IC and, as a result, no definitive preventative measures exist. However, researchers continue to search for answers. While stress is not a known cause, stress reduction may reduce symptoms.

Schedule an appointment with a UR Medicine provider.

Call (585) 275-2838

Urology Live Chat: Now Available

Need to book an appointment? Questions about your urologic health? A live chat agent may be available to assist. 

    • Look for the blue chat icon located the bottom right corner of this page and click it. 
    • Type "urology" and send the message.
    • Enter your zip code and send the message.
    • Click the "chat with an agent" button if it appears. 
    • You may be asked to provide some basic information. This helps us assist you more effectively.
    • If available, a live agent will be with you as soon as possible.
    • Once connected, you'll be able to ask questions, schedule appointments, or get assistance with any concerns you may have regarding your urological health.

UR Medicine's Treatments for Interstitial Cystitis

Diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis

Diagnosing interstitial cystitis can be difficult due to the wide variety of symptoms patients experience. Your provider will likely try to rule out any related conditions first, including:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vaginal infections
  • Chronic bacterial and nonbacterial prostatitis (in men)
  • Bladder cancer
  • Bladder infection
  • Radiation cystitis
  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Other pelvic pain conditions such as endometriosis
  • Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction

Common tools and tests used to diagnose interstitial cystitis include:

  • Urinalysis to check for blood or bacteria in the urine.
  • Urine culture to detect bacteria, which is then tested to determine the right medication.
  • Urine cytology, an examination of the cells from the bladder lining that is also used to check for prostatitis in men.
  • Cystoscopy to look inside the bladder for stones, ulcers, and other disorders. A thin, flexible tube is inserted into the bladder.
  • Cystoscopy with hydrodistension, performed under general anesthesia, stretches the bladder with fluid. This test can be used to confirm an IC diagnosis and may lead to temporary relief of symptoms.

Treating Interstitial Cystitis

While there is no cure or permanent fix for IC, there are many treatment options available:

  • Diet modification can identify foods and drinks that may trigger symptoms.
  • Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy and exercise can help relax and stretch the muscles that support your bladder.
  • Bladder instillation delivers medication directly to the bladder.
  • Medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, and anti-heartburn medications can be used to relieve IC symptoms.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) provides mild electrical pulses to the body to help block pain.
  • Stopping smoking may help reduce symptoms while also reducing your risk of bladder cancer.
  • Cystoscopy with hydrodistension may relieve or decrease IC symptoms for up to 6 months. Removing any ulcers seen inside the bladder during cystoscopy may also provide relief.

What Sets Us Apart?

Our Adult Pelvic Health & Continence Care program is one of the few practices in the nation to provide a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to conditions like Interstitial Cystitis.

Nationally-recognized experts from UR Medicine Urogynecology, UR Medicine Urology, and other related specialties work together to provide a full-spectrum of custom-tailored treatment options for each patient.

With an emphasis on outpatient and minimally-invasive in-office techniques and individual behavior management offered on site, your comfort is our first priority.


Our care team is here for you. Find a UR Medicine expert and get care now.

View Providers


We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

View All Locations

14 locations

Urology - Sawgrass - Brighton

158 Sawgrass Drive, 2nd Floor, Suite 230
Rochester, NY 14620

Urology - Brighton

Brighton Pathways to Health​
3200 Brighton-Henrietta Townline Road
Rochester, NY 14623

Urology - Brockport

Strong West
156 West Avenue, 3rd Floor
Brockport, NY 14420

Urology - Canandaigua

699 South Main Street, Suite 6
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Urology - Dansville

Noyes Memorial Hospital
111 Clara Barton Street
Dansville, NY 14437

Urology - Geneseo

Noyes Health Services
50 East South Street
Geneseo, NY 14454

Urology - Geneva

293 West North Street
Geneva, NY 14456

Urology - Greece

South Pointe Landing
10 South Pointe Landing, Suite 130
Rochester, NY 14606

Urology - Wellsville

Jones Memorial Hospital
191 North Main Street, 3rd Floor
Wellsville, NY 14895

Urology - Hornell

St. James Medical Office Building
7309 Seneca Point Road North, Suite 102
Hornell, NY 14843

Pediatric Urology - Rochester

Lattimore Medical Center
125 Lattimore Road, Ground Floor, Suite G-100
Rochester, NY 14620

Urology - Rochester

Highland Hospital
1000 South Avenue
Rochester, NY 14620

Urology - Rochester

Ambulatory Care Center at Strong Memorial Hospital
601 Elmwood Avenue, 2nd Floor
Rochester, NY 14642

Patient Education & Support

Related Services & Conditions