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OBJECTIVE: To describe women’s ‘lived’ experience of interstitial cystitis (IC); specifically, its meaning and the psychosocial impact on quality of life for women using the conceptual model of sexual health.
DESIGN: Qualitative study using purposive sampling. The study consisted of semistructured interviews with women diagnosed with IC. Data were analyzed using manifest content analysis methodology.
SETTING: Interviews were conducted either in the home or at the time of the woman’s clinic visit.
POPULATION STUDIED: Participants were required to have been treated with pentosan polysulfate, intravesical therapy of dimethyl sulfoxide or a combination of both. Women who had undergone bladder dilation only and those in remission were excluded.
MAIN RESULTS: Findings supported the sexual health model with relationships emerging as the most predominant category impacting the lives of women with IC.
CONCLUSIONS: Specific to communicating issues of sexual health, the findings of the present study further supported the existing gaps in clinical practice for care delivery. There is a need to educate health professionals about the impact of IC on sexual well being and to ensure that the staff working within an IC clinic are comfortable with including sexual health in the provision of care.