The enigma of men with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome
Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) is a common and frequently misdiagnosed disorder in men. Hallmark symptoms are the presence of chronic discomfort attributed to the urinary bladder associated with bladder filling and relieved with bladder emptying, often associated with irritative voiding symptoms, in the absence of any other identifiable cause. It is often grouped with another common clinical entity, chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS). Men with IC/BPS often suffer from a delay in diagnosis and subsequent treatment, often being categorized as having prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or epididymitis before the correct diagnosis is reached. The etiology of IC/BPS is poorly understood, and its pathogenesis may involve multiple pathways leading to a common clinical entity. Diagnostic criteria continue to evolve over time as the understanding of IC/BPS improves, and a clinical diagnosis with properly performed history and physical exam is suitable for diagnosis after other processes such as infection, radiation, or pharmaceutical exposure are appropriately excluded. No set pathological findings, biomarkers, or phenotypic descriptions have been universally accepted as a result of conflicting studies. Guidelines for diagnostic and treatment options are limited by available data, and few studies incorporate substantial numbers of male patients. Reported outcomes for common therapies are mixed or have not yet been subjected to study in rigorous placebo-controlled clinical trials in men. Lessons learned from the treatment of CP/CPPS can be applied to IC/BPS, by favoring a phenotypically directed, multimodal approach rather than a stepwise algorithm as advocated by current practice guidelines.