Women's Health Matters

Text Size
Jump to body content


Is interstitial cystitis related to cancer?
No, there is no evidence that interstitial cystitis (IC) is associated with cancer. Women with IC do not have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer.

Can IC affect my chances of getting pregnant?
There are no studies that suggest that IC influences fertility.

I’m thinking of getting pregnant. Will pregnancy affect my IC?
There is evidence to suggest that pregnancy can affect a woman’s IC. A survey done by the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) found that although women reported a mild increase in symptoms during pregnancy (primarily, urinary frequency), they did not report having more pain. Some women are freed from symptoms of IC during pregnancy and breastfeeding, suggesting a hormonal component to the disease. For more information, see the ICA webpage on IC and Pregnancy.

My IC is interfering with my sex life. Is there anything I can try?
Many women with IC experience pain before, during and after intercourse. Since it is primarily intercourse that causes pain, you may want to turn to other sexual activities that do not involve penetration, such as stimulation with the hands and mouth. Experimenting with different intercourse positions – for example, being penetrated from behind or being on top – may relieve some of the friction and irritation that can prompt IC symptoms. Making sure you are aroused and well-lubricated before penetration can also reduce pain. Added lubrication may also help. Lastly, try drinking plenty of fluids before sex, and urinating afterwards, to prevent bladder infections and reduce irritation.

Communicating with your partner is important. If you feel that IC is putting a strain on your relationship, you may want to consider couple counselling.

Are there any alternative therapies for IC?
Although there are a number of complementary therapies that some women have tried to treat their IC, few of these have been studied. One that has been studied in placebo-controlled trials is L-arginine. Though it initially appeared promising, and seemed to reduce both pain and urinary frequency, more recent trials have not been able to reproduce this result and several placebo-controlled trials have now shown no benefit of L-arginine for people with IC.

Quercetin is a compound naturally found in apples and onions, among other fruits and vegetables. It may be an antihistamine that reduces inflammation. No properly controlled trials have been done but a group of people taking this substance in a formulation specifically prepared for people with bladder problems did report some improvement in their symptoms. If you are considering this product, be aware that it is often sold in combination with vitamin C, which can irritate the bladder. You may wish to avoid products that contain vitamin C.

Other alternative treatments that have been suggested for IC include substances that help replace the glycosaminoglycan lining of the bladder, such as glucosamine, chondroitin and aloe vera. None of these has received sufficient study.


Jump to top page

This website proudly supported by:

Interstitial Cystitis

Medical Description





Discussion Groups

Share knowledge and talk about your gynecological health-related experiences with other women.

Gynecological Health Discussion Forum

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital