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What Activities/Exercises Relieve Interstitial Cystitis?

  • Interstitial cystitis or IC is a type of cystitis that causes symptoms such as frequent urination, bladder pain, and urgency(1)
  • Interstitial cystitis may be difficult to treat because the cause is not clear(2)
  • Doing exercises and being active can help control the interstitial cystitis symptoms
  • Exercise also helps in maintaining your bladder health with improved blood flow and making the bladder-associated muscles strong and flexible(3)
  • Stronger bladder muscles help in supporting and protecting the organs in the pelvic region(3)
  • There are no specific exercises for interstitial cystitis, rather common gentle exercises offer good results(3)

What Activities/Exercises Relieve Interstitial Cystitis?

Doing exercises and being active can help control interstitial cystitis symptoms. Exercise also helps in maintaining your bladder health with improved blood flow and making the bladder-associated muscles strong and flexible. Stronger bladder muscles help in supporting and protecting the organs in the pelvic region. There are no specific exercises for IC, rather common gentle exercises offer good results.

So, if you are suffering from IC and are not a very active person it is good to add some exercise schedule in your life. Start with light intensity exercises and consult your physician before starting with any exercise.

If you are already having an exercise schedule, you should continue the routine as far as possible. It may help you relieve or lessen the symptoms and get back most of your previous lifestyle. Gentle exercises such as Yoga, Walking, Tai Chi, and low-intensity aerobics are helpful.(3,5)

Interstitial cystitis is a long-standing illness that does not go away, such as frequent urination, wanting to urinate soon even after going to the toilet, and stomach ache if you hold the urination. Most cystitis is bacterial cystitis caused by a bacterial infection. Interstitial cystitis with similar symptoms is a disease with a different cause and treatment from bacterial cystitis.(2)

Causes And Symptoms Of Interstitial Cystitis

The cause of interstitial cystitis is unknown. It is speculated that dysfunction of the bladder mucous membrane, abnormal immunity, and irritation by substances in urine may trigger this condition.

Symptoms of interstitial cystitis include hematuria, pain, the urgency to urinate, etc.

The typical symptom of people with interstitial cystitis is pain around the bladder (lower abdomen) when urine accumulates. It is not uncommon for a person who has more than 20 urinations a day and still suffering from prolonged pain in the pelvic region.

People with the following symptoms may have interstitial cystitis:

  • When the urine collects, the lower abdomen hurts 
  • A woman has pain during intercourse 
  • Even if you urinate, you will immediately feel to urinate again 
  • Going to the toilet many times at night 

Other than these symptoms, IC may be present in people who have been diagnosed with bacterial cystitis and are being treated but their symptoms do not improve, or who are experiencing the symptoms even after taking frequent urine medication.(1)

Diagnosis Of Interstitial Cystitis

When diagnosing interstitial cystitis, it is important to confirm that there are no other diseases that cause symptoms (such as bacterial cystitis). The diagnosis of interstitial cystitis is done by eliminating the possibility of other diseases. This type of diagnosis is called an exclusion diagnosis.

Various tests are necessary for exclusion diagnosis, and tests other than those listed here may be scheduled.(4)

Urinalysis: A urinalysis can check for hematuria and white blood cells in the urine. Rather than a diagnosis of interstitial cystitis, it looks for other illnesses that cause symptoms.

Urine Culture Test: A test tests for bacteria in the urine. This is a useful test to distinguish it from bacterial cystitis. Since it has to wait for the bacteria to grow, it takes a few days for the test results to come out.

Urine Cytology: Interstitial cystitis can be difficult to distinguish from bladder cancer. Urine cytology is a test to check under the microscope if cancer cells are lurking in the urine. It is positive if urine cytology indicates cancer cells. Urine cytology requires 5-7 days to obtain test results as it takes time to carefully observe each cell with human eyes.

Ultrasound Examination: Ultrasonic inspection is also referred to as a good inspection method for interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis cannot be diagnosed by ultrasonography, but it is useful for diagnosing stones (bladder stones) and tumors (such as bladder cancer) in the bladder. If there are bladder stones, an X-ray or CT scan may be added.

Cystoscopy: Cystoscopy is a test to observe the inside of the bladder by inserting an endoscope through the external urethral meatus (outlet of urine). Since the inside of the bladder can be seen with a camera, most information is useful for diagnosis.(4)


  1. Birder LA. Pathophysiology of interstitial cystitis. International Journal of Urology. 2019;26:12-15.
  2. Giusto LL, Zahner PM, Shoskes DA. An evaluation of the pharmacotherapy for interstitial cystitis. Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy. 2018;19(10):1097-1108.
  3. Whitmore KE. Complementary and alternative therapies as treatment approaches for interstitial cystitis. Reviews in urology. 2002;4(Suppl 1):S28.
  4. Garzon S, Laganà AS, Casarin J, et al. An update on treatment options for interstitial cystitis. Menopausal Review/Przeglad Menopauzalny. 2020;19(1).

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 27, 2020

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