Surgical and Non-surgical Interstitial Cystitis Treatments

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a bladder disorder that can cause varying degrees of pelvic discomfort, pain, burning or pressure and may be associated with urinary frequency (urinating too often), urgency (persistent urgent need to use the bathroom), and painful sexual intercourse.

A urine test is normally free of bacteria, although symptoms of IC may seem like those of recurring urinary tract infections. Symptoms may be so severe that it would have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. Current estimates show that IC is nine times more prevalent in females than males and affects one million Americans.

The exact cause of IC is not fully understood, but one of the theories which is most accepted suggests that patients with IC have gaps in the protective lining of the bladder cavity. This allows toxic irritants in urine to go into the bladder wall muscle and irritate it.

The patient is usually given a symptom questionnaire that is focused on bladder symptoms when IC is suspected. Other confirmatory diagnostic tests can also be performed at the physician’s office. IC is a chronic disorder that cannot be fully cured, but treatment is directed towards symptom relief to enhance the patient’s quality of life.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be used to help a patient’s pelvic floor muscle spasm, in addition to pelvic and vaginal pain of muscular origin. Each session takes around 45 minutes and therapy is carried out weekly for 10 to 12 weeks.

Bladder Instillations / Treatments

This type of therapy involves placing a soothing solution into the bladder; this has a calming effect on contact with the bladder walls. These bladder treatments may be done at least once a week for multiple weeks.

Each treatment takes about five minutes and can give immediate relief of IC symptoms. The number of treatments may vary and is dependent on each case.

Bladder Diet

Some certain foods and drinks can trigger IC symptoms. Often, dietary changes help to prevent IC symptom flare-ups. The doctor will discuss these dietary changes with a patient in detail.


Medications are often used to help with IC symptoms, including bladder analgesic agents, vaginal suppositories, and/or antispasmodic medications. Medications to help with frequent urination are sometimes used depending on the case.


This procedure entails stretching the bladder walls by filling the bladder with a large amount of distension fluid while observing the inside of the bladder using a camera (cystoscopy). The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes between 20 to 30 minutes with minimal postoperative recovery time.


The procedure entails putting a neurostimulator under the skin to act as a bladder pacemaker. It helps with urinary frequency, urgency, and bladder pain and is seen as one of the more advanced options for IC in patients who fail the options outlined above.

AZ Urogynecology and Pelvic Health Center

About AZ Urogynecology and Pelvic Health Center

The AZ Urogynecology and Pelvic Health Center is devoted exclusively to the diagnosis and treatment of all urogynecologic, pelvic floor disorders and complex gynecologic problems.

They offer a wide array of advanced diagnostic tools and specialized treatment options.

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Last updated: Oct 21, 2019 at 5:16 AM


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