What is Interstitial Cystitis (IC)?

What is Interstitial Cystitis (IC)?

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition resulting in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder or surrounding pelvic region. People with IC usually have inflamed or irritated bladder walls which can cause scarring and stiffening of the bladder.


Doctor and patient with abdominal pain

What are the symptoms of IC?

People who think they may have IC should visit a physician for diagnosis. They may have SOME or NONE of the following:

  • Abdominal or pelvic mild discomfort.
  • Frequent urination.
  • A feeling of urgency to urinate.
  • Feeling of abdominal or pelvic pressure.
  • Tenderness.
  • Intense pain in the bladder or pelvic region.
  • Severe lower abdominal pain that intensifies as the urinary bladder fills or empties.

Who is at risk for IC?

IC affects men and women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds and ages. However, it is more common in women than men. Early prevalence research suggested that IC ranged from 1 out of every 100,000 to 5.1 out of every 100,000 in the general population; but updated epidemiologic research conducted in 2006 suggests that up to 12% of women may have early symptoms of IC.

What causes IC?

The cause(s) of IC is currently unknown. Its diagnosis is often made only after excluding other urinary bladder causes.

Current CDC Activities

The purpose of this program is to promote public awareness and partnership, provide interstitial cystitis (IC) education for the general public and for health care providers, and develop and enhance communication channels to allow for improved interaction and information sharing among those with IC, advocates for persons with IC and their families, those who provide care and services for persons with IC, researchers, and public health scientists.

CDC and the Interstitial Cystitis Association, a voluntary patient organization, are developing and implementing programs to enhance public awareness and health provider knowledge regarding interstitial cystitis. CDC is also promoting new partnerships, education, and communication at local and national levels regarding identifying interstitial cystitis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and referral to familial and health care provider support services.

What are other sources for information on IC?