Current Sexual Health Reports

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 104–108 | Cite as

Interstitial Cystitis and Sexual Dysfunction: Diagnostic Accuracy Is Essential

  • Rachel S. Rubin
  • Elizabeth Malphrus
Medical Comorbidities (A Goldstein, M Miner, and S Parish, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Medical Comorbidities


Purpose of Review

To review the current literature regarding sexual dysfunction and interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS). Our goal was to review the epidemiology and overlap of these two conditions as well discuss the success of various IC/BPS treatment modalities with improving sexual function.

Recent Findings

Women with IC/BPS have a much higher incidence of sexual dysfunction as compared to controls, and this is often a significant predictor of poor quality of life. IC/BPS is thought to have various phenotypes and is associated with a number of overlapping chronic conditions which may contribute to sexual dysfunction thus making an accurate diagnosis imperative. Various treatments for IC/BPS may improve certain domains of sexual function.


It is not surprising that IC/BPS, a chronic pelvic pain condition, negatively affects sexual function. More research is needed not just on the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in this patient population, but specifically on treatment options and ways to improve sexual function in these distressed patients.


Interstitial cystitis Bladder pain syndrome Sexual dysfunction Vulvodynia Dyspareunia Pelvic pain 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Rachel S. Rubin reports grants from Endoceutics, AbbVie Inc., GTx Inc., Bayer Healthcare LLC, and IPSEN, outside the submitted work; Elizabeth Malphrus declares no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance

  1. 1.
    Douglas-Moore JL, Goddard J. Current best practice in the management of cystitis and pelvic pain. Ther Adv Urol. 2018;10:17–22. Scholar
  2. 2.
    Malik ST, Birch BR, Voegeli D, Fader M, Foria V, Cooper AJ, et al. Distribution of mast cell subtypes in interstitial cystitis: implications for novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies? J Clin Pathol. 2018; Available from:
  3. 3.
    Bassi PF, Costantini E, Foley S, Palea S. Glycosaminoglycan therapy for bladder diseases: emerging new treatments. Eur Urol Suppl. 2011;10:451–011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sant GR, Kempuraj D, Marchand JE, Theoharides TC. The mast cell in interstitial cystitis: role in pathophysiology and pathogenesis. Urology. 2007;69:34–007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bogart LM, Suttorp MJ, Elliott MN, Clemens JQ, Berry SH. Prevalence and correlates of sexual dysfunction among women with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis. Urology. 2011;77:576–80. Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bogart LM, Berry SH, Clemens JQ. Symptoms of interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndrome and similar diseases in women: a systematic review. J Urol. 2007;177:450–6. Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nickel JC, Shoskes D, Irvine-Bird K. Clinical phenotyping of women with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome: a key to classification and potentially improved management. J Urol. 2009;182:155–60. Scholar
  8. 8.
    •• Liu B, Su M, Zhan H, Yang F, Li W, Zhou X. Adding a sexual dysfunction domain to UPOINT system improves association with symptoms in women with interstitial cystitis and bladder pain syndrome. Urology. 2014;84:1308–13. Highlights that sexual dysfunction is an important predictor to IC/BPS symptom severity and should be added as a phenotype of the disorder.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Simon JA, Goldstein I, Kim NN, Davis SR, Kellogg-Spadt S, Lowenstein L, et al. The role of androgens in the treatment of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM): International Society for the Study of Women: f asome have proposed incorporating measures l review. Menopause N Y N. 2018;25:837–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Womenowenstein L, et al. The role of androgens in the treternet]. Northwestern University; [cited 2017 Nov 17]. Available from: http://menopause.northwestern. edu/content/genitourinary-syndrome-menopause.
  11. 11.
    •• Gardella B, Porru D, Nappi RE, Daccò MD, Chiesa A, Spinillo A. Interstitial cystitis is associated with vulvodynia and sexual dysfunction--a case-control study. J Sex Med. 2011;8:1726–34. All the patients with sexual dysfunction and IC/BPS also had vulvodynia. Important to find and treat all underlying causes of pelvic pain.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Abernethy MG, Rosenfeld A, White JR, Mueller MG, Lewicky-Gaupp C, Kenton K. Urinary Microbiome and Cytokine levels in women with interstitial cystitis. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;129:500–6. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chiu C-D, Lee M-H, Chen W-C, Ho HL, Wu H-C. Childhood trauma perpetrated by close others, psychiatric dysfunction, and urological symptoms in patients with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. J Psychosom Res. 2017;93:90–5. Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nickel JC, Tripp DA, Pontari M, Moldwin R, Mayer R, Carr LK, et al. Childhood sexual trauma in women with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: a case control study. Can Urol Assoc J J Assoc Urol Can. 2011;5:410–5. Scholar
  15. 15.
    Seth A, Teichman JMH. Differences in the clinical presentation of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome in patients with or without sexual abuse history. J Urol. 2008;180:2029–33. Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tripp DA, Nickel JC, Fitzgerald MP, Mayer R, Stechyson N, Hsieh A. Sexual functioning, catastrophizing, depression, and pain, as predictors of quality of life in women with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Urology. 2009;73:987–92. Scholar
  17. 17.
    Troxel WM, Booth M, Buysse DJ, Elliott MN, Suskind AM, Clemens JQ, et al. Sleep disturbances and nocturnal symptoms: relationships with quality of life in a population-based sample of women with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. J Clin Sleep Med JCSM Off Publ Am Acad Sleep Med. 2014;10:1331–7. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Meng E, Hsu Y-C, Chuang Y-C. Advances in intravesical therapy for bladder pain syndrome (BPS)/interstitial cystitis (IC). Low Urin Tract Symptoms. 2018;10:3–11. Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nickel JC, Parsons CL, Forrest J, Kaufman D, Evans R, Chen A, et al. Improvement in sexual functioning in patients with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. J Sex Med. 2008;5:394–9. Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hung M-J, Su T-H, Lin Y-H, Huang W-C, Lin T-Y, Hsu C-S, et al. Changes in sexual function of women with refractory interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome after intravesical therapy with a hyaluronic acid solution. J Sex Med. 2014;11:2256–63. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hsieh C-H, Chang S-T, Hsieh C-J, Hsu C-S, Kuo T-C, Chang H-C, et al. Treatment of interstitial cystitis with hydrodistention and bladder training. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2008;19:1379–84. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fariello JY, Whitmore K. Sacral neuromodulation stimulation for IC/PBS, chronic pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction. Int Urogynecol J. 2010;21:1553–8. Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wehbe SA, Whitmore K, Ho MH. Sacral neuromodulations for female lower urinary tract, pelvic floor, and bowel disorders. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2010;22:414–9. Scholar
  24. 24.
    Pauls RN, Marinkovic SP, Silva WA, Rooney CM, Kleeman SD, Karram MM. Effects of sacral neuromodulation on female sexual function. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2007;18:391–5. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Schmid C, Berger K, Müller M, Silke J, Mueller MD, Kuhn A. Painful bladder syndrome: management and effect on sexual function and quality of life. Ginekol Pol. 2011;82:96–101.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hanno PM, Erickson D, Moldwin R, Faraday MM. American Urological Association. Diagnosis and treatment of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: AUA guideline amendment. J Urol. 2015;193:1545–53. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    FitzGerald MP, Payne CK, Lukacz ES, Yang CC, Peters KM, Chai TC, et al. Randomized multicenter clinical trial of myofascial physical therapy in women with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome and pelvic floor tenderness. J Urol. 2012;187:2113–8. Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kottmel A, Goldstein I. Vulvoscopy. J Sex Med. 2012;9:2990–3. Scholar
  29. 29.
    Gagnon C, Minton J, Goldstein I. Vestibular anesthesia test for neuroproliferative vestibulodynia. J Sex Med. 2014;11:1888–91. Scholar
  30. 30.
    Sarton J. Assessment of the pelvic floor muscles in women with sexual pain. J Sex Med. 2010;7:3526–9. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IntimMedicine SpecialistsWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.School of Medicine and Health SciencesGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations