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 CDC is currently working with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (http://myicstudy.org/External) to estimate the U.S. nationwide prevalence and incidence of interstitial cystitis using a large cohort from the Veterans Affairs healthcare system, the largest integrated health care system in the country. This project will define the demographic and clinical characteristics of IC and its impact on health from a population perspective. The results from this study will provide a better understanding of the epidemiology of the disease and improve approaches for gathering information on those affected by IC in order to better target interventions for groups at high risk for IC and to inform best clinical practices.

What are other sources for information on IC?