ORIGINAL RESEARCH—SEXUAL PAIN DISORDERS: Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome as a Cause of Sexual Pain in Women: A Diagnosis to Consider


Kristene Whitmore, MD, Graduate Hospital, 1 Graduate Plaza, Philadelphia, PA 19146, USA. Tel: 215-893-2643; Fax: 215-893-4574; E-mail: bladder1@aol.com


Introduction.  Sexual pain, or dyspareunia, is a common symptom among women. Dyspareunia presents in many ways, and arises from a range of causes. Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) is one potential cause that may frequently be overlooked by clinicians. Interstitial cystitis is increasingly recognized as more common than was once thought. However, it can be difficult to identify, as the symptoms of IC/PBS (urinary urgency and frequency, dyspareunia, nocturia, and pelvic pain) overlap with other urogynecologic conditions.

Aim.  This article will review the association between dyspareunia and IC/PBS, and will provide an approach to the diagnosis and treatment of IC/PBS in women with sexual pain.

Methods and Main Outcome Measures.  Review of the medical literature and expert medical opinion.

Results.  Many women with IC/PBS experience dyspareunia, often in conjunction with chronic pelvic pain. When IC/PBS is suspected, there are simple measures to aid in the diagnosis of this condition, and treatments are readily available.

Conclusions.  When a woman presents with the symptoms of urinary urgency and frequency, dyspareunia, nocturia, and/or pelvic pain, IC/PBS should be part of the diagnostic evaluation. Whitmore K, Siegel JF, and Kellogg-Spadt S. Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome as a cause of sexual pain in women: A diagnosis to consider. J Sex Med 2007;4:720–727.