Interstitial Cystitis (IC): Treatment & Home Remedies


Interstitial cystitis (IC), also called bladder pain syndrome (BPS) or painful bladder syndrome, is a long-term (chronic) condition causing pressure and pain on bladder, sometimes on pelvic. The pain ranges from mild discomfort to severe. IC is most common in women and can have a long-lasting impact on patients’ life quality.

In America, about 3 million to 8 million women are affected. According to the statistics, women are affected about five times as many as men. White women may more likely to have IC than other racial and ethnic groups. IC is most affect people in their middle age.

Causes & Risk Factors

The exact cause of IC is still unknown currently. However, there are some factors may be related to IC, including:

  • Is a woman.
  • Always have a lot of stress.
  • A weak immune system.
  • Had a bladder infection.
  • Have certain other conditions: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, vulvodynia, and allergies are common in women with bladder pain syndrome.


The symptoms of IC vary from person to person and may get worse if you are in period, sitting for a long time, under stress and having exercise. Some common symptoms may include:

  • Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the lower abdomen, pelvis, bladder, urethra, vulva, vagina, or rectum.
  • Bladder pressure and pain will get worse as your bladder fills up.
  • Need to urinate urgency and frequency. People with IC may urinate as often as 40 times a day (normal people 7-8 times daily), including during the night.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Pain that may get worse during period.
  • Have ulcers, sores, or bleeding in the bladder.


Doctors usually will ask your medical history and symptoms first, such as the previous infection history and times of urination daily, then he may give you a pelvic exam to check your external genitals, vagina, cervix, anus and rectum. Moreover, doctors need some tests results to help diagnose, including:

  • Urine test.
  • Biopsy. This is to check for bladder cancer and other rare causes of bladder pain.
  • Cystoscopy.
  • Bladder distention. During a cystoscopy, your doctor may fill your bladder with liquid to slowly stretch and expand your bladder. This can show how much urine your bladder can hold. This can also relieve pain.


There is no cure for IC, doctors can only treat for relieving the symptoms.


  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), to relieve pain.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: such as amitriptyline or imipramine (Tofranil), to help relax your bladder and block pain.
  • Antihistamine: such as loratadine (Claritin, others), which may reduce urinary urgency and frequency and relieve other symptoms.
  • Pentosan polysulfate sodium (Elmiron): it can relieve pain and lessen the need to urinate in some people.

Bladder instillation.

Doctors use a catheter to fill your bladder with a liquid or solution (usually used with certain medication). The liquid washes the inside of your bladder for about 15 minutes before it is emptied. This can help relieve muscle spasms during the urination and the bladder pain. You may receive this treatment for several weeks (usually 6-8 weeks), for twice a week or every two weeks, depending on your symptoms.

Physical therapy.

In some cases, pain may be caused by muscles spasm in the pelvic floor, lower abdomen, or back. This therapy can help to relax the pain of muscles. You can get help from a physical therapist.

Nerve stimulation.

This uses wires to send mild electric pulses to nerves in the bladder. This can relieve pain and reduce the frequency of urination.

Botox injections.

Doctors inject botulinum toxin (Botox) into the muscle in the bladder lining or pelvic floor to help bladder relax and store more urine.


This is usually the last and most serious treatment option. Doctors may recommend surgery to remove the bladder or parts of the bladder if other treatment options are failed. But this will make you have to use a bag outside of your body to collect and dispose of urine.


IC may cause other conditions if the symptoms don’t get relieved, including:

  • Reduced bladder capacity.
  • Lower quality of sleep.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Depression.

Home Remedies

Some tips can relieve the symptoms of IC efficiently, such as:

  • Reduce stress and learn to relax.
  • Eating a balanced diet, avoid eating spicy foods, tomatoes and pickled foods.
  • Do pelvic floor muscle relaxation exercises.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee.
  • Have regular exercise.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.

Please consult your doctors for your treatment.

Keywords: interstitial cystitis; IC; bladder pain syndrome; BPS; painful bladder syndrome.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.