• interstitial cystitis;
  • pain;
  • painful bladder syndrome;
  • urge;
  • urgency



Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) is a symptom-based diagnosis. We studied the IC/PBS symptom commonly referred to as “urgency” and its relationship to IC/PBS pain in a group of women with recent onset of the disease.


As part of a case control study to identify risk factors for IC, cases completed a questionnaire including two statements regarding the perceived cause of their urge to void. One was related to fear of incontinence and the other was linked with relief of pain. A Likert scale indicating level of agreement/disagreement comprised the response options.


Most respondents (65%) agreed with the statement linking urge with pain relief. A minority (21%) concurred with the fear of incontinence statement. Disagreement for both was found in 19%. A substantial proportion (46%) agreed with pain relief but also disagreed that urge is related to fear of incontinence. Those who reported urge to relieve pain were significantly more likely to report worsened pain with bladder filling and/or improved pain with voiding. There were no such associations with urge to prevent incontinence. Overactive bladder or diabetes prior to IC onset did not confound these results.


At least two distinct experiences of urge to urinate are evident in this population. For most, urge is linked with pain relief and is associated with bladder filling/emptying. About 1/5 reported urge to prevent incontinence. A similar portion did not agree with either urge, indicating that they may experience something altogether different, which requires further inquiry. Neurourol. Urodynam. 27:287–290, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.