Keep getting cystitis after having sex? Here's what to do

Medically reviewed by Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB), Dr Sarah Welsh
·3 min read
Photo credit: Image Source - Getty Images
Photo credit: Image Source - Getty Images

From Netdoctor

Does it burn when you pee? If your urethra stings coupled with symptoms including an increased need to urinate and generally feeling unwell, it's possible you might have cystitis.

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by a bladder infection and sex can increase your likelihood of getting cystitis, especially if you don't pee afterwards.

We speak to gynaecologist and co-founder of HANX Dr Sarah Welsh for everything you need to know about cystitis and sex:

What is cystitis?

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, which is a common urinary tract infection (UTI) that is more common amongst women and is caused by bacteria getting into the bladder.

Most infections are caused by bacteria, and often this bacteria comes from the bowel or on the skin that then tracks up into the bladder through the urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder to outside of your body when you urinate).

Once these bacteria multiply, you will experience cystitis symptoms. Women are more susceptible as their urethra is shorter than men.

Sex and cystitis

Sex can increase your likelihood of getting cystitis, especially if you do not pee afterwards. This is because sex can introduce bacteria from the surrounding genital area into the urethra - and subsequently up into the bladder, leading to cystitis.

If you already have cystitis, having sex can also be uncomfortable because it can cause friction and irritation on the urethra, which is sensitive during an infection.

With penetrative sex, pressure on the vagina can also put pressure on the bladder and cause more pain if it is inflamed and sensitive.

Common cystitis symptoms

Most commonly sufferers experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain and burning/stinging when you pee.

  • The need to pee more regularly and urgently than normal.

  • The sensation that the bladder is not empty even after urinating.

  • The urine itself can be more dark and smelly that normal, and in severe infections there can be blood in it.

  • Some people may also experience pelvic pain, feeling sick, tired and generally unwell.

Cystitis treatment options

If symptoms don’t improve or get worse within a few days, you will likely require antibiotics to treat the infection. You should see a doctor sooner if you have blood in your urine or are pregnant.

Other treatments include simple pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, and ensuring you drink plenty of water.

Sometimes cystitis clear up by itself within a few days of supportive measures such as taking painkillers, avoiding sex and drinking lots of water.

Some people say that remedies such as cranberry juice help with their symptoms, but there is no medical evidence to support this as an effective treatment.

Cystitis prevention tips

If you get recurrent cystitis from sex, try the following tips:

✔️ Make sure you always pee after sex.

✔️ Avoid wiping your bottom from back to front after going to the toilet, and ensure you keep well hydrated.

✔️ Try and avoid using other irritants including spermicides and/or a diaphragm for contraception.

✔️ Certain things including catheters and diaphragm (for contraception) can increase your chances of getting cystitis, as well as being pregnant or having a kidney stone.

✔️ See your GP to discuss using a single dose of antibiotic after sex or a regular low dose to prevent infection occurring.

Last updated: 14-01-2020

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