What are the symptoms of interstitial cystitis?
The main symptoms of interstitial cystitis include:
- intense pelvic pain (felt over the lower tummy)
- needing to urinate more often than normal
- sudden strong urges to urinate
- pain in the lower tummy when your bladder is filling up, which is relieved after you urinate
- waking up frequently during the night to urinate
Other symptoms that have been linked with interstitial cystitis, but are less common include:
- difficulty urinating
- blood in your urine (haematuria)
- urinary incontinence.
It is important to note that other conditions share these symptoms too, so you should see your doctor to rule out other possible causes.
What are the early signs of interstitial cystitis?
The early symptoms of interstitial cystitis are often mild, making it harder to diagnose. These include:
- urinating more often than usual,
- having strong urges to urinate
- getting intense pelvic pain
What does interstitial cystitis feel like?
Interstitial cystitis can range from feeling like a dull ache to a piercing pain. Urinating may sting a little or cause an extreme burning sensation. People with interstitial cystitis often have pressure, discomfort, pain, or tenderness in the bladder, pelvic area, and lower abdomen.
Is interstitial cystitis painful?
Yes, pain is a common symptom for people with interstitial cystitis. However, the severity of the pain will vary between people. Pain caused by interstitial cystitis can range from mild discomfort such as a dull ache to severe pain and pressure. Pain is usually felt in the lower stomach, where the bladder is.
If you are finding it difficult to manage your symptoms, do not delay in speaking to your doctor for advice and treatment.
How long does interstitial cystitis last?
Interstitial cystitis can be a lifelong chronic condition. While there are no cures for the condition, some treatments can offer relief. The main purpose of treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Interstitial cystitis complications
Interstitial cystitis can cause a range of complications, such as:
- reduced bladder capacity because of stiffening of the bladder wall
- barriers to sexual intimacy and relationships
- lower quality of life due to frequent pain and urination
- difficulty sleeping
- issues with social embarrassment and self-esteem
Long-lasting effects of interstitial cystitis
While the symptoms of interstitial cystitis are not pleasant, you will find they often come and go over time. This means there may be times when your symptoms improve over days, weeks, or months, followed by flare-ups when they are worse.
Interstitial cystitis life expectancy
Interstitial cystitis is not life-threatening and does not have an impact on life expectancy.
However, symptoms of interstitial cystitis can affect your quality of life and have an impact on your work, relationships, and mental health.
Interstitial cystitis and endometriosis
The symptoms of interstitial cystitis and endometriosis often overlap. People can also have both conditions at the same time.
Both of the conditions cause similar symptoms, such as:
- pelvic pain
- pain in the hips, lower back, groin, and tailbone
- urgent need to urinate
- pain during intercourse
When should I talk to a doctor about my interstitial cystitis?
If you have interstitial cystitis and notice your condition is worsening or your treatments are not effective, you should talk to your doctor.
If you do not have a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis and notice a change in your pattern of urinating or have pelvic pain that does not go away, you should see your doctor.