There is no cure for interstitial cystitis. However, there are several treatments that can improve your symptoms. There are also some lifestyle changes that you can make which may help you live with the condition.
It can also be difficult to predict which treatments will produce the best results in a patient. Typically, symptoms can vary from being mild to severe. They can often disappear for days or weeks or even longer only to return at a later date.
The most common treatments for interstitial cystitis include:
Physiotherapy: The bladder is held in place by the pelvic floor. By strengthening these muscles it may be possible to control urination and manage the pain. A physiotherapist will be able to show you a range of exercises that can strengthen and relax these muscles.
Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medication, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, may help you to manage pain, particularly if it is mild to moderate.
Prescription medication: If bladder pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe interstitial cystitis medication to help reduce the need to urinate and thus control the pain.
Bladder instillation: This is a treatment to wash out the inside of your bladder, so it is sometimes called a bladder bath or bladder wash. A small tube, called a catheter, is inserted into the urethra. The bladder is then filled with a liquid for a few minutes before being drained. This may help reduce the need to urinate.
Bladder retraining: Women with interstitial cystitis often get into the habit of using the bathroom as soon as they feel an urgency to urinate, even if the bladder is not full. Bladder retraining aims to break this habit by using relaxation techniques to hold urine for a longer period of time.
Bladder enlargement: Also called hydrodistention, this is a procedure to enlarge the bladder. It increases the amount of urine that the bladder can hold, which reduces the need for frequent urination.
Nerve stimulation: A doctor will use mild electric pulses to stimulate the nerves in the bladder. This can help in managing pain and reduce the need for frequent urination.
This treatment is only an option after all other treatments have failed to reduce the symptoms or you have a very severe case of interstitial cystitis. It is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the bladder.