Interstitial cystitis causes pain in the bladder or pelvic area and a more frequent need to urinate than usual. In some cases, a doctor may recommend Botox injections for interstitial cystitis if other treatments are ineffective.

Health experts estimate that interstitial cystitis may affect 700,000–1,000,000 people in the United States. The condition typically involves inflammation or irritation in the bladder walls, which may lead to stiffening and scarring of the bladder.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of Botox for interstitial cystitis.

However, some doctors may recommend this treatment when others have not worked. Botox may help block nerves in the bladder that transmit sensations such as pain. A healthcare professional injects Botox directly into the bladder.

This article explores research about Botox for interstitial cystitis, possible side effects of Botox, other treatments for interstitial cystitis, and when a person may need to speak with a doctor.

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Limited studies have examined the safety and effectiveness of Botox injections in treating interstitial cystitis.

The authors of a 2022 review exploring surgical interventions for treating the condition conclude that further research into the efficacy of Botox injections is necessary. However, they also note that researchers may have difficulty conducting large-scale, high quality studies due to the low prevalence of interstitial cystitis and the limited number of people with the condition who decide to have surgical treatment.

A 2022 study notes that previous research indicates that Botox may help reduce interstitial cystitis symptoms. The author states that Botox has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects, which means it may relieve spasms in the bladder and help reduce pain.

The author also points out that while doctors often prescribe Botox for lower urinary tract dysfunctions, such as overactive bladder, it does not have approval for treating interstitial cystitis. They note that additional research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of Botox for treating the condition.

Two studies from 2019 and 2020 suggest that Botox may be effective for treating interstitial cystitis. However, the authors of both studies argue that the treatment provides short-term relief from symptoms, such as bladder pain, and a person may need repeat Botox injections to experience long-term relief.

Both authors conclude that further studies on a broader scale into the efficacy of Botox for interstitial cystitis are necessary.

Botox injections for interstitial cystitis may cause some adverse effects. According to a 2020 study, common adverse effects may include:

The authors also note that some people experience mild fatigue following Botox treatment.

Experts advise people to speak with a healthcare professional for further information about the potential side effects of Botox injections for interstitial cystitis.

Doctors may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments to help with interstitial cystitis symptoms.

Options may include:

It is best for a person to speak with a doctor for advice about which treatments may work best for them.

Interstitial cystitis is not life threatening and does not increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. However, a person with the condition may experience severe pain that affects their ability to work, study, socialize, or engage in sexual activity.

A person with interstitial cystitis may wish to consider speaking with a doctor if:

  • current treatments are not helping relieve their symptoms
  • they experience adverse reactions to treatment
  • they experience any changes in their symptoms

Researchers have not widely studied Botox treatment for interstitial cystitis. However, some researchers have found it may effectively relieve bladder pain.

Overall, studies indicate that the existing evidence is not comprehensive enough to fully evaluate the efficacy or safety of Botox treatment for interstitial cystitis. Researchers note that additional high quality studies with larger numbers of participants are necessary.

However, other treatments for interstitial cystitis are available. These include lifestyle changes, medications, and surgical procedures.

A doctor can offer a person more individually tailored information about interstitial cystitis treatment.