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Interstitial cystitis is a complex inflammatory condition of the bladder. The pathophysiology of interstitial cystitis is incompletely understood, although altered epithelial permeability, mast cell activation and sensory afferent nerve upregulation play critical roles. A unified understanding of the pathogenesis of interstitial cystitis is emerging and this will hopefully lead to the introduction of novel therapies for pain and irritative voiding symptoms. Interstitial cystitis is a common disease among women and is frequently misdiagnosed as prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia among men.