10 Tips for Living Well With IC

  • You Have the Power
    There are many treatments available to help reduce symptoms of interstitial cystitis (IC). But people with IC already have a powerful tool to combat the condition: themselves. You can significantly reduce symptoms and prevent flare-ups by learning to make a few key lifestyle changes.



  • Bladder Retraining
    Talk with your doctor about bladder retraining. It can be done at home, on your own, and can help establish a more normal urination schedule. In bladder retraining, you urinate at set times—not just when the urge occurs—to slowly extend the time between bathroom breaks. This increases how much urine the bladder will hold, which reduces the frequency of urges.



  • Diet Can Make a Difference
    Although IC affects every person differently, there are certain foods and drinks that commonly trigger symptoms and flare-ups. Coffee, tea, citrus fruits, and spicy foods are just a few. Eliminating these and other bladder-unfriendly foods from your diet can help calm the pain. To learn how to better manage IC with diet changes, visit the Interstitial Cystitis Association.



  • Why You Should Exercise
    Not only is exercise vital to your overall health, it can also reduce IC symptoms. But people with IC need to choose workouts that won't aggravate their condition. Focus on activities with smooth movements such as gentle yoga, tai chi, rowing, light weights, the elliptical machine, or walking.



  • Stress Can Make Symptoms Worse
    Although stress doesn't cause IC, it can aggravate symptoms and cause flare-ups. People with IC may battle stress not only from everyday pressures but also as a result of dealing with their condition. Taking a stress management class, getting a massage, talking with a therapist, and learning relaxation methods such as meditation may help. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress.



  • Quitting Smoking Is Key
    Smoking cigarettes has been shown to irritate the bladder and make urinary frequency and urgency symptoms worse. To ease symptoms and improve your overall health, talk with your doctor about how to quit.



  • What About Sex?
    It may be difficult to engage in sexual intimacy, especially intercourse. However, romance is possible by talking honestly with your partner and being open to change. Learn ways to increase pleasure and decrease pain such as varying sexual positions, using ample lubrication, and applying an ice pack to the area after sex. Working with a trained sexual therapist can help. Many couples find satisfaction from sexual activities that don't involve intercourse.



  • Clothing Choices Matter
    People with IC should wear loose, comfortable clothing, especially during flare-ups. Anything that constricts the stomach or pelvic area should be avoided. Wear only cotton underwear; polyester or nylon may be irritating. Underwear should be washed in a very mild detergent and dried without fabric softener.



  • Tips for Traveling
    The key to successfully traveling with IC is to plan ahead. Research where restrooms are located along your travel route and at your destination. Bring along a portable potty or urinal in case a toilet isn't available. On airplanes, request an aisle seat by the restroom.



  • Be Assertive for Restroom Access
    Having access to a restroom is a necessity for people with IC. But a public toilet isn't always available. To help gain access, wear a MedicAlert bracelet. And if you're severely affected by the condition, apply for a handicapped parking sticker.



10 Tips for Living Well With IC
  1. Bladder Retraining, Interstitial Cystitis Association, December 14, 2009 (http://www.ichelp.org/Page.aspx?pid=368)
  2. Eating With IC, Interstitial Cystitis Association, July 7, 2010 (http://www.ichelp.org/Page.aspx?pid=389)
  3. Least to Most Bothersome Foods, Interstitial Cystitis Association (http://www.ichelp.org/Page.aspx?pid=390)
  4. Self Help Techniques, Interstitial Cystitis Association, Aug. 9, 2009 (http://www.ichelp.org/Page.aspx?pid=419)
  5. Is IC Your Wake Up Call? Self-Help Strategies, Interstitial Cystitis Network; accessed July 28, 2010 (http://www.ic-network.com/self-help/)
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Last Review Date: 2019 May 23
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