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Does Interstitial Cystitis Cause UTIs & Does Vitamin D Help IC?

Most condition of interstitial cystitis typically does not produce symptoms however, when there is an increase in bacterial levels, it may result in full-blown UTIs.1

Both men and women may be exposed to a chronic bladder infection that often leads to urinary tract infection.2

Vitamin D strengthens the bladder by acting as a barrier against the infectious bacteria which acts as a primary agent in inducing UTI.3,4

Interstitial cystitis (IC), also called Painful Bladder Syndrome is a complex pain condition wherein there is an inflamed or irritated bladder wall. The condition is characterized by daytime and nighttime urinary frequency, urgency, and pelvic pain.

Does Interstitial Cystitis Cause UTIs?

It is often challenging to diagnose interstitial cystitis because of the symptoms of IC and UTI overlap. IC is perhaps one of the worse urinary tract infections you ever had, and it never goes away. During some instances, it may resemble UTI but there are usually no symptoms.

Interstitial cystitis causes recurring pain and discomfort in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region accompanied by urgency & pain during peeing. When a patient is suffering from interstitial cystitis, he /she experiences inflammation/irritation in their bladder walls. When the bladder is inflamed, it eventually affects the amount of urine the bladder can hold that results in stinging, bleeding, and pain while urinating.1

Most condition of IC typically does not produce symptoms however, when there is an increase in bacterial levels, it may result in full-blown UTIs. There are cases where interstitial cystitis is confused for common cystitis which is typically an infection of the bladder and most commonly referred to as urinary tract infection. IC is not caused by bacteria unlike common cystitis and antibiotics don’t improve symptoms.

Treatment of UTI is a course of antibiotics to ease pain and burning sensation with an increase in water intake. However, there is no cure for interstitial cystitis but lifestyle modifications and dietary changes can alleviate or diminish many of the symptoms.

When the condition left untreated, it can turn something more worrisome and may lead to complications such as kidney infection and have a long-lasting impact on life.

However, studies reveal that the condition is not life-threatening and doesn’t lead to cancer.2

Does Vitamin D Help Interstitial Cystitis?

A new study shows that low levels of vitamin D can significantly induce problems in women in both bathrooms as well as their bones. According to Samuel Badalian, a researcher with Medical University in Syracuse, higher levels of vitamin D have a decreased risk of pelvic floor disorder in women. Based on the studies, it is evident that at least one out of four women suffer from any of the pelvic disorders during their lifetime.

Therefore, many studies have emphasized the need for supplements especially Vitamin D in restricting the flares in IC. The functional components in this vitamin act as an effective complementary treatment that aids in healing the inflammation and easing the symptoms of interstitial cystitis. Vitamin D strengthens the bladder by acting as a barrier against the infectious bacteria which acts as a primary agent in inducing UTI.

When the vitamin levels are low, it eventually weakens the pelvic floor causing severe pain and dysfunction. This was reported in 23% of cases in women who were suffering from IC complications. Vitamin D intake shows a decrease in edema and white blood cell in the bladder wall thus acting as a potential therapy for IC.3,4


  1. “Wrong Diagnosis.” Interstitial Cystitis Association, 1 July 2015, www.ichelp.org/diagnosis-treatment/diagnosis-of-ic/wrong-diagnosis/.
  2. “Oh My Aching Bladder: Is It A UTI or IC?” Chesapeake Urology, 31 Jan. 2019, www.chesapeakeurology.com/blog/2019/01/15/oh-my-aching-bladder-is-it-a-uti-or-ic/.
  3. Warner, Jennifer. “Low Vitamin D Levels Tied to Incontinence.” WebMD, WebMD, 19 Mar. 2010, www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/news/20100322/low-vitamin-d-linked-incontinence.
  4. P. Acharya, J. Beckel, et al. “Vitamin D Strengthens the Bladder Epithelial Barrier by Inducing Tight Junction Proteins during E. Coli Urinary Tract Infection.” Cell and Tissue Research, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1 Jan. 1970, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00441-019-03162-z.

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 26, 2020

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