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Interstitial Cystitis Treatment in Denver and Colorado Springs, CO

Interstitial Cystitis

Comprehensive bladder health is one of the hallmarks of the care you will receive at all TUCC locations. And of all the bladder conditions we treat, interstitial cystitis (IC), otherwise known as bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is one of the most prevalent.

Research shows that 3–8 million women in the U.S. have IC; that’s around 6 percent of all women in the country. Men also suffer from this condition. The same research demonstrates that 1–4 million men experience symptoms of IC; however, the number of men with IC could be significantly higher, as their symptoms are often mistaken for other disorders, such as chronic prostatitis. 

The team at TUCC conducts thorough physical examinations and exploratory treatments to get to the root of your bladder pain. If the source of your discomfort is IC, we can help you find the relief you need to get back to an active lifestyle. 

What Is Interstitial Cystitis?

IC is a chronic bladder condition caused by damage to the protective lining of the bladder. In patients, the condition is characterized by symptoms of urinary frequency, urinary urgency, or pain in the areas between the navel and the inside of the thighs. This pain can be occasional or constant, and it can range from mild to severe.

Different Types of Interstitial Cystitis

There are currently two known types of IC recognized by physicians. The existence of these additional subtypes, known as phenotypes, helps explain why some patients exhibit different symptoms and why there is a disparity in how individuals respond to certain treatments. 

IC Subtypes:

  • Non-ulcerative: This represents the bulk of IC diagnoses. Non-ulcerative IC often presents with hemorrhages in the bladder wall. However, this symptom is shared by other bladder conditions.
  • Ulcerative: This is less common. Ulcerative IC often presents with Hunner’s ulcers, or red, bleeding areas on the bladder wall. 

Causes and Risk Factors of Bladder Pain Syndrome

While researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of IC, there are a number of risk factors that could potentially contribute to the development of the condition. Often, a trigger event that damages the bladder or bladder lining could leave you vulnerable to IC. Potential causes may affect each other and increase the symptoms one is experiencing.

Trigger events could include:

  • A urinary substance that damages the bladder
  • A defect in bladder epithelial tissue (lining of the bladder) 
  • Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
  • Bacterial infection (cystitis) 
  • Bladder overdistention (waiting long periods between urination or “holding it in”)
  • A change in the nerves running through the bladder to induce pain that was not felt before
  • The release of histamine or other chemicals by an inflammatory cell
  • An autoimmune disorder whereby the body’s immune system attacks the bladder
  • Primary neurogenic inflammation (hypersensitivity or inflammation of pelvic nerves)
  • Spinal cord trauma


Symptoms often vary from person to person; some patients might even feel an array of symptoms over time. However, certain symptoms of IC are almost universal, altering the daily lifestyle of both men and women. These symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination: IC patients may experience frequent urination both day and night.
  • Urination urgency: Patients feel the sensation of having to urinate immediately. This sometimes includes pain, pressure, or spasms.
  • Pain: Those suffering from IC experience pain in the lower abdominal, urethral, or vaginal area. Pain can occur during urination, as well as during sexual intercourse. 


If you are feeling any symptoms related to IC, it’s crucial that you visit TUCC for a proper examination. Several tests can be used to determine an accurate diagnosis. First, patients will undergo a medical history, physical exam, and urine tests. A urologist may also use a cystoscopy test, a procedure where the inside of the bladder is visualized to reveal bleeding areas or ulcers.

In addition to cystoscopies, a urodynamics evaluation may also be used to diagnose bladder pain syndrome. This test measures bladder pressure as the bladder fills and empties. Having a small bladder capacity and pain with filling are signs of IC.

Potassium sensitivity tests involve the placement of potassium solution and water into the bladder one at a time to compare pain and urinary urgency levels. Patients with normal bladders cannot feel a difference between the two solutions, while patients with interstitial cystitis feel more pain and urgency with the potassium solution.


While there is no cure or a single form of treatment, IC can be treated with a combination of medicine, lifestyle changes, and other methods.

Medicinal Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis

Oral Pentosan Polysulfate (Elmiron)

Oral pentosan polysulfate (Elmiron) is a medication that builds and restores the protective coating on the bladder epithelium and decreases inflammation with minimal side effects.

Dimethyl Sulfoxide

Patients suffering from IC may also be administered dimethyl sulfoxide into their bladder through a catheter once a week for six weeks. This medication treats the condition by blocking inflammation, decreasing pain, and removing tissue-damaging free radicals.

Oral Hydroxyzine

Oral hydroxyzine is an antihistamine medication that causes sedation, allowing patients to sleep through the night and urinate less frequently.

Oral Amitriptyline 

Classified as an antidepressant that also treats IC symptoms, oral amitriptyline serves as an antihistamine, decreasing bladder spasms and slowing nerves that carry pain messages. Possible side effects with this form of medication are sedation, constipation, and weight gain. 

Other Treatments for Interstitial Cystitis

Certain lifestyle changes could decrease your risk of IC. However, it is important to remember that consulting a urologist at TUCC is the most reliable path toward successful treatment.

Change in Diet

Certain foods and beverages can irritate your bladder and worsen IC symptoms. These foods include spicy food, alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine. 


This treatment uses sensors placed on your stomach (abdomen) to show you the signals your bladder muscles give off. This may help you control your bladder muscles and reduce symptoms.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical signals may help block nerve sensations to and from the bladder. This may improve blood flow and strengthen pelvic muscles.


For severe cases, surgery may be advised.

The Best Interstitial Cystitis Doctors in Colorado

Denver, Lone Tree, & Colorado Springs


Physicians at TUCC specialize in all conditions related to urology, including interstitial cystitis.

There is no immediate cure for IC. Instead, a visit to a TUCC urologist can find the best course of treatment for your specific situation. This can include medication to manage pain and, in extreme cases, surgical options.

Yes! A certified urologist—such as those at TUCC—can diagnose your condition and recommend the best course of treatment.

While interstitial cystitis flares differ for each patient, symptoms include pain in the pelvic area, the urgency to pee frequently, and a burning sensation when urinating.

TUCC physicians test for IC with urine samples and urinalysis. The patient provides a urine sample, and the doctor examines it with a microscope to learn if there are any organisms, germs, pus, or white blood cells, which could indicate an infection.

End-stage IC is a severe form of the condition where patients suffer persistent symptoms for more than two years. End-stage IC is characterized by hard bladders with low capacity and immense pain. Often, those suffering from end-stage IC also have Hunner’s ulcers.

Certain foods and beverages are known to aggravate IC. This includes spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate.

Aside from medications, there are some IC flare-up calming strategies you can try at home. 

  • Drink additional water to dilute urine.
  • Place a heating pad on the perineum (area between the anus and vagina in women, and the anus and the base of penis in men). Alternatively, a cold pack could also deliver relief.
  • Take a warm sitz bath.
  • Relax your pelvic muscles by placing your knees against your chest.
  • As always, the best course of action is to contact your urologist.

In some cases, certain antidepressants, sinus medicines, and pain relievers may trigger IC symptom flare-ups. If these medicines make your IC worse, talk with your health care professional.

Yes! Certain antihistamines interfere with the release of histamine, helping to relieve bladder inflammation and pain, urinary frequency, and nighttime voiding.

There are various interstitial cystitis treatments, from more conservative options to surgery. We evaluate each patient to determine the best treatment for their particular condition.

For the most part, IC symptoms occur after the age of 30.

As both are chronic pelvic pain disorders, IC and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) often coexist in patients.

“IC Belly” refers to a sudden and random swelling of the lower abdomen, which occurs during IC flares.

Depending on the severity of the condition, IC pain can range from mild to extremely severe.

Yes. IC is an autoimmune-related condition, causing pain and discomfort in the bladder.

The stages of interstitial cystitis refer to the escalating pain levels. Pain stages can be mild, moderate, or severe.

While some patients respond well to treatment, with symptoms gradually improving and even disappearing, most patients need to continue treatment indefinitely in order to stave off the return of symptoms.

We’re here to help.

For appointments at any TUCC location, request an appointment online.