Interstitial Cystitis treatment

With your new found diagnosis begins your journey to acceptance. You know your feelings are being acknowledged now, you are able to start looking towards your coping mechanisms and treatment options. The hardest part is now over with, your invisible illness existence does not defensively need to be justified anymore. Firstly, allow yourself to embrace that fact. You know who you are and what you go through, in fact, you are about to take control of your world with IC intact, like Dora’s backpack along your journey. So here are some suggestions, the treatment options available and such.

Oral medications​​​

  • SSRIs / Antidepressants - These may be considered if you are having troubling emotional needs at that time, we are familiar with this emotional burden. There are also some antidepressants, such as Amitriptyline, that are prescribed at low doses to relieve a certain level of pain.

  • Nerve Blockers - These are medications such as Gabapentin, that create a barrier against nerve pain in your brain over time and consistency. They can be great for hunner's lesions pain (the blisters) because this pain is caused by acidic substances in your bladder, having access to your nerves. There are a handful of nerve blocking types to be considered and discussed with your doctor.

  • Narcotic Painkillers - This is your opioids and such, like co codamol. The body has a defence mechanism when fighting damage, that is to swell. Once swollen, the bladder can insist that strangers believe you’re pregnant; don’t be fooled! When your body aches and swells as it does with IC, opioids can relieve the pain stemming from the swelling and alleviate a little of this reaction. 

  • Muscle Relaxants - Some sufferers are faced with tension in the pelvis, pelvic floor dysfunction etc. The muscles contracting our bladders work extra hard and muscle relaxants can ease some of this tension. It may not be the best for incontinence, but may help resolve retention, so I suppose we should also try to bring nappies into trend, why not?

  • Antihistamines - You may notice that whilst the body is busy working on whatever it has decided needs doing in the bladder and pelvis, you become susceptible to allergies and reactions, like a sudden allergy to pets, worsening hayfever or even viral infections and frequent colds. These come and go with the wind for some and may indicate an alternative underlying autoimmune condition. However, antihistamines can work for this as well as for alleviating some of the impact of diverting from the food restrictions we are invited to keep to.

  • Heartburn / Acidity Reducing medicine - One of the enemies of IC is acidity; it can be like pouring white vinegar on an open wound. You may be able to alleviate some of the symptoms you face by trying medicines that alkalize in order to balance the pH levels.

  • Immunosuppressants - These medications are far more invasive and have a substantial impact, they should always be discussed with a medical professional and used with guidance, because you can become susceptible to further illness of course. This may be an option if you are facing many immune issues at once, however, I would always recommend seeking the advice of an immunologist before taking this medicinal path.

Bladder medications

There are a variety of medications that can be input into your bladder using a catheter, with the intention of simulating a temporary replacement of the protective GAG lining within the bladder. A catheter will be inserted through your urethra and directly into your bladder to firstly fully empty it. A catheter tip syringe will be full of the required solution and attached to the catheter, this is then pressed through and retained for the necessary time (Upto 4 Hours, usually at least 30 minutes in order to be effective). The patient then has to follow this procedure with the responsibility of practicing certain positions, like yoga, focussed on moving the solution throughout to cover the total bladder wall is internally covered for the treatment length.

  • Cystistat - A 50ml Hyaluronic Acid solution offering a temporary replacement of the bladder lining until your body manages to break this down. This can be used weekly, with the intention of extending time between use. In successful circumstances and surroundings, can assist into a remission.

  • Instills of: Uracyst, gepan, hyacyst, cystistat, iAluril, DMSO, Rimso-50, Heparin, Botox

  • Concoction - A Urologist is able to discuss mixtures with you, to install into your bladder. These are concoctions including possibly DMSO, Sodium Hyaluronate, Heparin, and suitable medically advised pairings. 

Nerve Stimulation

Some Urology departments are able to offer TENs or nerve stimulation therapy. This is where pads are placed on the skin (called electrodes) and mild electrical signals are synthetically sent to the nerves which control the bladder. This works by encouraging the nerves to then release endorphins and block pain in a more 'natural' way. This therapy can improve some symptoms for some sufferers and may lead to making the decision of a permanent device placed in the body to this effect. There are trials of this nature currently taking place, which will provide insight into further routes of treatment.

Stress techniques and relaxation

It is a fact that stress triggers the body's fight or flight autoimmune defenses, and when an autoimmune condition is also faced with these circumstances, the body becomes overwhelmed and the condition begins to strengthen it’s grip. This has a huge impact on Interstitial Cystitis and the development of associated conditions. It is recommended that you find a little slice of peace in your world, perhaps a hobby such as yoga, meditation, painting, reading or writing. Developing your stress reduction methods and spending more time relaxing will likely have a positive impact on your condition. It is by far easier said than done, but you are capable and you have a choice.

Physical Activities and Therapies

It is extremely difficult to maintain a physical balance whilst trying to manage life with a debilitating condition. You can find on this website, a section dedicated to vertical and lightweight exercises that can help you keep in shape whilst suffering internally. You may find getting a massage, doing some light sports or a healing therapist is something you would be interested in, so push for that to happen when you feel capable and empowered enough.

Antibiotics for Imbedded infection

The theory of Dr Lee has arisen the belief of IC being caused by a microscopic and invasive infection, that's embedded into your DNA. The cure when in consideration of this opinion, is a dose of long term antibiotics specific to the bacteria found in your bladder. I do believe this is an interesting route and we will have more information on it at some point, but the risk of taking antibiotics is still very real and considering them on a long term basis is further daunting. However, on the diagnosis page, ‘Microgen DX’ was mentioned and would allow you to further investigate into the possibility of a deeper cause of infection.


The final resort to consider would be the full removal of your bladder. This is usually considered when feeling absolutely low, at your wits end. Many people have found relief and success with this operation and now use other means to go to the loo. However, this is simply put, the last possible resort in most instances.