Non-infectious cystitis is irritation (i.e., inflammation) of the bladder in the absence of a bladder infection. In women of any age, non-infectious cystitis is common.
Interstitial cystitis is chronic non-infectious cystitis (i.e., chronic inflammation of the wall of the bladder) in the absence of a bladder infection.
Many factors can contribute to non-infectious cystitis and interstitial cystitis, including:
Irritants that may result in the breakdown of the glycoprotein layer (i.e., consisting of molecules containing proteins and sugars) on the outside membrane of cells lining the bladder
Irritants that may result in the migration of certain types of inflammatory cells (known as mast cells) into the lining of the bladder
Consumption of spicy and/or acidic foods, which can irritate the lining of the bladder
Using tampons during menstruation. The foreign and chemical nature of tampons can irritate the vaginal and urethral areas.
Prolonged exposure to moistness in the pelvic area, caused by wearing wet or tight clothing (such as spandex material or nylon underwear) in the pelvic area or taking frequent bubble baths, which can irritate the areas of the vulva (i.e., outer and inner parts of the vagina) and urethra
Sexual intercourse following a previous total or temporary absence of sexual intercourse. Thus, in literature geared to patients, the condition sometimes is called "honeymoon cystitis."
Inadequate lubrication during sexual intercourse
Insufficient levels of estrogen in post-menopausal women, resulting in thinning of the lining (i.e., the mucous membranes) and an increase in sensitivity of the vagina and the urethra (the tube leading from the bladder to the outside of the body)
Negative psychological attitudes towards the relationship with a romantic partner, which may contribute to the occurrence of neurogenic (i.e., caused by the nervous system) inflammation of the lining of the bladder after intercourse, leading to non-infectious cystitis or interstitial cystitis
Blocked energy flow in the pelvic area. According to alternative medicine physicians, blockage of energy in the 2nd chakra (region of energy flow) can contribute to
non-infectious cystitis and interstitial cystitis.
Signs and symptoms of non-infectious cystitis and interstitial cystitis may include:[1, 2]
Urgency of urination
Frequency of urination, including a sensation of not having completed urination
Sensation of burning, stinging, or pain just before, during or immediately after urinating
Feeling of discomfort or pressure in the urethra and/or bladder
Blood in the urine
Diagnosis of non-infectious cystitis and interstitial cystitis by a physician involves examination of a sample of urine under the microscope and in the laboratory and confirmation by culture (i.e., taking a sample of the urine and growing microbes from it in the laboratory) that only normal microbes were present in the original specimen of urine. Consult your integrative medical physician or gynecologist for diagnosis of non-infectious cystitis and interstitial cystitis.
For a discussion of prevention and treatment of non-infectious cystitis, see our Q&A called, "Treatment of Non-Infectious Cystitis (Irritation of the Bladder)."
1. I Ikenze. Menopause & Homeopathy: A Guide for Women in Midlife. 1998. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
2 J. Reichenberg-Ullman. Whole Woman Homeopathy. 2004. Edmonds, WA: Picnic Point Press.