Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Reproductive Health Topics Publications & Resources Professional Education Newsroom Membership Policy & Advocacy About Us
Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians
Send To A Friend Send To A Friend Bookmark this Page Share this page
Diagnosis and Management of Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome

(Published May 2008)

Using This Guide

Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) is a chronic debilitating condition characterized by pelvic pain, urinary urgency, and urinary frequency. The condition takes a significant toll on patients’ quality of life. People who have IC/PBS suffer from a “silent affliction,” often appearing healthy but experiencing unrelenting pain that requires frequent trips to the bathroom, both day and night. Although curing IC/PBS is not yet possible, the high toll that IC/PBS exacts can be mitigated with currently available therapy once the disease is diagnosed.

Unfortunately, people who have IC/PBS often suffer needlessly because of delays in diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and lack of awareness of the disorder. On average, patients experience a lag time of five to seven years before they receive a diagnosis of IC/PBS.

Primary care providers can play an essential role in reducing such suffering by identifying persons whose symptoms are consistent with IC/PBS, promptly diagnosing and treating the disorder, and referring patients to specialists as necessary. For this reason, it is important for primary care providers to be aware of IC/PBS and become familiar with the presentation and recommendations for diagnosis and management of IC/PBS.

This Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians® is designed to help health care providers more easily identify patients for whom a diagnosis of IC/PBS should be considered and, depending on their level of experience and comfort, begin the process of diagnosis and treatment, referring for specialty care when needed.

Considering the possibility that a patient’s symptoms may represent IC/PBS is the crucial first step in uncovering previously undiagnosed and untreated IC/PBS. We hope this Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians allows health care providers to confidently take that first step, preventing unnecessary and prolonged suffering for the many people whose condition remains undiagnosed and therefore inadequately treated.

The following abbreviations are used throughout this document:

DMSO – dimethylsulfoxide
FDA – Food and Drug Administration
IC/PBS – interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome
NSAIDs – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
OAB – overactive bladder
PFD – pelvic floor dysfunction
PPS – pentosan polysulfate sodium
SSRIs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
UTI – urinary tract infection