A Gynaecologist Answers Your Questions About Cystitis

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By Gynaecologist Anne Henderson, on behalf of Canesten.

Anne Henderson

Anne Henderson

Everything you need to know about the condition that can leave you on the loo for hours at a time, prevent you from having sex and leave you with pains that can be compared to PMS.

Ill, unwell woman suffering from diarrhea, constipation and cystitis at toilet. Stomach pain during PMS. Health care and pain concept ;

Pic: Shutterstock

Can men get cystitis?

In short, yes, men can get cystitis. However, it’s much less likely as Gynaecologist Anne Henderson explains:

“Women are prone to suffer with cystitis more due to the short urethra. This is the passage between the vulva and the bladder, and the commonest culprit for cystitis is the bowel bacteria transferred between the two. Coliforms which shouldn’t be anywhere near the bladder end up on the perineum or the vulva, and then move their way up into the bladder.” Whereas, if you think about it, a man’s bowel is much further away from the penis!

Is hygiene a factor in getting the condition?

Women shouldn’t feel ashamed about any intimate health condition as there is a myriad of causes:

“Hygiene is very important, but it’s relatively easy to spread coliforms up into the bladder. Unless you’ve got a pretty strong immune response, you can end up with infection, and recurrent infections related to intercourse.”

What’s the leading cause of cystitis?

Perhaps not we want to hear, but sex is the leading trigger:

“Sexual intercourse is probably the main trigger for cystitis in women, and it’s very easy to understand anatomically why that would be. Most women will find that it happens around the time of intercourse or 48-72 hours later.”

Should You Take Antibiotics For Cystitis?

Colourful packets of antibiotics

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While antibiotics can work for infections, you have to be wary as to not treat one condition but leave yourself vulnerable to another:

“To deal with cystitis women tend to visit their GP to get antibiotics. However, these antibiotics can knock out the lactobacillus, which is the good bacteria, and you end up with thrush taking over. This then causes the typical symptoms of a heavy white discharge.”

Is Cystitis Only Caused By Bacteria?

Close up picture of a woman holding her crotch, she needs to pee immediately, outdoor;

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Sometimes you might have the symptoms of a UTI / cystitis but it could be something else:

“In some situations, women may have non-infectious cystitis which is commonly known as interstitial cystitis. In other cases, women who have a vaginal infection such as BV or thrush may experience bladder discomfort, but this does not mean that they have cystitis. Localised inflammation or dehydration can also cause bladder discomfort, which is not associated with cystitis.”

Treat Cystitis

Anne tells us how to alleviate the symptoms if we do get symptoms:

“Taking sachets containing sodium or potassium citrate will increase the pH of the urine, and so helps alleviate the symptoms, especially the stinging pain experienced when urinating. Often cystitis is just inflammation of the bladder and not a full-blown infection. In some cases, your GP may prescribe you antibiotics to clear the infection.”

Treatment options such as CanesOasis Cystitis Relief (£5.49), contain sodium citrate which reduces the acidity of your urine and helps to alleviate the stinging pain that you experience when you urinate, treating the symptoms of cystitis supporting you to get over your infections.

CanesOasis Cystitis Relief with sachet

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!