Bladder Pain Syndrome / Interstitial Cystitis

What is it? 

Painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is a condition that results in a frequent, painful and urgent need to urinate without any known pathology on the bladder walls. Interstitial Cystitis (IC) results in the same symptoms, however the bladder wall is visibly inflamed on cystoscopy (camera inside the bladder).


  • A urgent need to pass urine despite how full the bladder is 

  • A frequent need to urinate 

  • Pain with bladder filling and/or with emptying 

  • Pressure and pain around the vagina/vulva that may worsen with bladder filling/urination, wearing tight clothes, or having intercourse

What causes it? 

Currently we don’t know what causes IC or PBS, however we do know that it is not caused by a bacteria or viral infection.

How is it diagnosed?

IC and PBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that your doctor may perform blood tests, urine samples and swabs and if they all come back “normal” then you may be diagnosed with IC/PBS. IC can also be confirmed by cystoscopy to see if there is any inflammation of the bladder wall. 

How is it treated?

Pelvic floor physiotherapist: often a pelvic floor physiotherapist will be referred to address muscular and nerve imbalances. The physio may recommend bladder retraining strategies, dilators, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), mobility, breath work and/or diet and lifestyle changes. Often a pelvic floor physio will want a bladder diary too – you can download ours here and take it along to your visit.

Urogynecologist: your GP may refer you to a urogynecologist (specialist in lower urinary track conditions and/or pelvic floor dysfunction) for more advanced testing and medical management. Often a urogynecologist, GP and pelvic floor physio will work together to develop a holistic treatment plan.