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How Common Is Interstitial Cystitis Or Is It A Rare Disease?

Patients with IC are 10 to 12 times more likely than controls to report childhood bladder problems.(1)

Interstitial cystitis appears to be slightly more common in Jewish women.(2)

How Common Is Interstitial Cystitis Or Is It A Rare Disease?

Although there is limited study literature present on the incidence and prevalence of interstitial cystitis by the assessment of whatever epidemiologic literature is present, it makes interstitial cystitis a fairly common disease.

Because there is no clear cut or refined demarcation about the definition of interstitial cystitis and other related bladder pain syndromes, the reports about its incidence and prevalence usually conflict and also varies in different countries. According to the studies published in the US, the prevalence of interstitial cystitis is estimated between 2.5 % to 6.5 % of which most of the affected are females. There is a male to female ratio of about 1: 10 which means about 10 females are affected by every male. When these prevalence figures are translated to actual numbers, it makes up about 7 to 8 million.(2)

According to another study conducted, the latest prevalence rate is 60 to 70 cases per million out of which 20 to 25 cases per million are added every year. When this data is compared with Europe and Asian countries like Japan, it shows a very large dip in prevalence and incidence of the cases of interstitial cystitis in women as well as men also. The corresponding prevalence rate is about 18 to 20 cases per million in Europe and 3 to 4 cases per million in Japan. This large variation can be attributed to different diagnostic criteria followed in these continents.

The median age for the establishment of the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis is about 40 years with few of the cases diagnosed in early adolescence and few in the elderly age group. It is a fairly self-limiting disease that can be supported by the data of a renowned study concluding that about 50% of the cases get remitted automatically within few years with a median period of about 8 to 10 months.(1)

Interstitial cystitis which was earlier thought to be very less prevalent in males, it is now found that it is very much underdiagnosed in them due to considerable overlapping with other bladder pain syndromes or chronic prostatitis. Initially, the prevalence was considered less than 10% but now it has been evaluated as high as 17 %. There are above 2 million men affected by interstitial cystitis alone in the US.(3)

With so many people affected by this condition, it becomes an issue for disability and quality of life. According to the survey conducted, the quality of life of a person suffering from interstitial cystitis is worse than the person who is suffering from chronic kidney disease and is on renal replacement therapy. It is because this condition affects the lifestyle so adversely that the person has to cope with the symptoms very frequently as compared to renal replacement therapy patients.


All the studies and research conducted on interstitial cystitis suggest that the condition is a fairly common one and is not a rare disease. Although epidemiological data also supports that it is very much common in females as compared to males but at the same time it also accepts that this condition is very much underdiagnosed in males due to considerable overlapping with prostatic symptoms.

Interstitial cystitis’ incidence and prevalence have been rising over the years as the etiological factors responsible for this condition have been rising such as stress, excretion of toxic substances from the kidneys, autoimmune disorders, lifestyle, etc.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 29, 2020

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