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Interstitial cystitis is a medical condition that affects the urinary system. Symptoms typically include pelvic pain as well as a frequent feeling of urgency to urinate. There may also be a feeling of pressure around the bladder, vagina, or scrotum, and sexual intercourse may become uncomfortable or even painful. The symptoms of interstitial cystitis often mimic those of a urinary tract infection, although tests show no signs of infectious bacteria.
People of any age can be affected by symptoms of interstitial cystitis, although this condition is most common among women, especially those of childbearing age. These women often experience feelings of pain and pressure between the vagina and the rectum. Men who experience these symptoms of interstitial cystitis tend to feel the pain and pressure between the scrotum and the anus. People of both genders frequently report lower abdominal pain or pressure that may come and go.
Frequent urination is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of interstitial cystitis, although these frequent trips to the restroom typically produce very little urine. Some people with this condition have reported several dozen trips to the restroom over the course of one day. The urinary urgency may be so uncomfortable that a person wakes several times throughout the night in order to urinate.
Pain during sexual intercourse may occur with either gender but is most common among female sufferers. This pain may become so severe that a person becomes afraid to even attempt to have sexual relations. Problems in relationships could result, especially if the affected person is too embarrassed to discuss the situation with her partner.
The various symptoms of interstitial cystitis may come and go unpredictably in some people. There have been a few reported triggers, although none of these are responsible for the development of the condition itself. Some of the most common triggers for symptoms of interstitial cystitis include stress, exercise, and sitting in one position for a prolonged period of time. Sexual intercourse or menstruation may also trigger these symptoms in some patients.
Some people may experience mild symptoms, while others may become completely debilitated by the pain. Treatment varies according to the severity of the symptoms and may include dietary changes, the use of prescription medications, or, in the more severe cases, surgery. Any questions or concerns about the symptoms of interstitial cystitis should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.