Your doctor will work closely with you to determine the plan that will work best for you based on your health needs, medical history, treatment preferences and lifestyle.

Your interstitial cystitis treatment may include one or more of the following options:


Over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen, may help provide pain relief, while antihistamines may reduce frequency and urgency of urination. Tricyclic antidepressants may relax the bladder and block pain. A medication called pentosan has been shown to restore the inner surface of the bladder, but often takes four months to see results.

Nerve Stimulation

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses low electrical pulses sent through wires placed on the low back or above the pubic area to relieve pelvic pain and decrease urinary frequency. Sacral nerve stimulation sends impulses to the sacral nerves (the link between the bladder and the spinal cord), reducing urinary urgency.

Bladder Distention

Using a thin, flexible tube inserted through the urethra, water or gas is placed in the bladder to stretch it, which may reduce the patient’s symptoms.

Medication Instillation

Medication called dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is placed into the bladder via a thin, flexible tube. After 15 minutes, the medication is passed by urination. This procedure may reduce inflammation in the bladder and prevent muscle contractions.


Surgery only is recommended in rare cases. Surgical options may include augmentation (removing the damaged part of the bladder), fulgeration (burning off any ulcers in the bladder) or resection (removing any ulcers in the bladder).