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Where Is The Pain Located In Interstitial Cystitis & Does It Feel Like Period Cramps?

The International Continence Society has coined the term painful bladder syndrome for suprapubic pain with bladder filling and reserves the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis for patients with characteristic cystoscopic and histologic features of the condition.(1)

Despite years of intensive research, there are no specific clinical or urinary markers currently clinically available; no specific radiographic, laboratory, or serologic findings; and no biopsy patterns that are pathognomonic for interstitial cystitis.(1)

Where Is The Pain Located In Interstitial Cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition in which there is inflammation of urinary bladder leading to the production of a variety of symptoms such as increased frequency of urination, frequent urge to urinate, lower abdominal pain, etc.

Pain is a very common symptom associated with interstitial cystitis because of the inflammation going on in the bladder. It may present with a variety of other features including pain also. Some patients may experience pain in the area between the urethral opening and anal opening which is known as the perineum. It can be described as pain between the vaginal opening and anal opening in females whereas in males it is usually described as the pain occurring between scrotum and anus.(2)

Sometimes the pain is not in a specific area and is generalized which presents as lower abdominal pain. It can also present as pelvic pain especially in the females leading to difficulty in diagnosis may confuse with other conditions of chronic pelvic pain. It may also radiate to other sites like in flank or groin regions or in right or left lumbar regions also.

Does Interstitial Cystitis Feel Like Period Cramps?

Interstitial cystitis can sometimes also present with a chief complaint of pelvic pain or pain in the lower abdominal region which has a lot of similarity with that of pain occurring during the periods.(2) Sometimes it also has been found that it is also having a cyclical tendency and increases with that of onset of menstruation.

Although abdominal cramps that occur during the menstrual process are very much cyclical that is they come after a certain period and occurs in short bouts rather than a longer period and are not associated with other symptoms of urination or micturition which is not with the case of interstitial cystitis there can be strong resemblance in both of their symptoms. Increased frequency of urination which especially is increased during the night time and is known as nocturia is very much associated with interstitial cystitis and can work as a differentiating feature from period cramps.

In a few cases, it has also been seen that the pain has started as soon as the menstrual period has started and it goes on relieving as the menstruation gets over. It makes the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis very difficult and must be correlated with other symptoms also.


Interstitial cystitis can present with a lot of symptoms which is usually associated with renal excretion system and its pathway like there is an increased frequency of micturition, urge of micturition, etc. but there is also a common association of pain with it. Pain can present at a lot of sites with a lot of variable intensities in many cases of interstitial cystitis because there are a lot of nearby nerves going across the bladder which may get irritated along with cystitis resulting in causing pain at the site of nerve supply.

According to various studies it has been seen that in many cases the pain of interstitial cystitis closely resembles that of period cramps and may lead to confusion of the diagnosis. So, it must be carefully examined and ruled out.


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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:July 14, 2020

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