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Interstitial Cystitis and Sex


What is interstitial cystitis?

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a painful bladder condition that usually is accompanied by experiencing an urgency to urinate and some pelvic pain. Nine out of ten people who live with IC are women, and the causes of IC remain unknown (although there are many theories). In one study of people who were diagnosed with IC, 63% of them originally presented with complaints of painful intercourse or dyspareunia..

Interstitial Cystitis and Sexual Pain

For both women and men IC can cause pain before, during, immediately following, and even several days after penetration and/or orgasm. The literature suggests that men can have pain during arousal and orgasm, and that women more often have pain after sexual activity.
Read more about IC and sexual pain.

IC's Impact on Sexuality

There is no one answer to this question. Our sexuality is complicated and so is our response to sexual pain. But there are some of the commonly discussed ways people say IC impacts their sexuality.
Read more about IC's impact on sexuality.

Managing the Impact of IC on your Sex Life and Sexuality

Managing IC usually involves making changes to many parts of your life including diet, communication styles, exercise, sexual behaviors, and work. There is not one right way to do this, and the solution that’s for you is one that will be uniquely yours.
Read more about how tominimize IC’s impact on your sex life.

Sexuality and IC: Carol's Story

When we think of chronic pain, illness, and disability we often imagine it as an all consuming monster that, when it “attacks us”, transforms us from an independent person into nothing more than an amalgamation of symptoms and complaints. While this can actually describe what it’s like at times to live with chronic pain, illness, or disability, it doesn’t represent the full reality of living with chronic pain, illness, or disability. The fact is that we are all individuals first and foremost, and the ways these conditions or situations impact us are as unique as we are.
Read Carol's story about IC's impact on her sexuality.

Resources on IC and Sexuality


  1. Webster, D.C. “Sex, Lies, and Stereotypes: Women and Interstitial Cystitis” The Journal of Sex Research Volume 33, Issue 3 (1996): 197-204.
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