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Why do I keep getting cystitis?

This content has been written and checked for quality and accuracy by
Mohamed Imran Lakhi Content Administrator Published on: 12/08/2019 Updated on: 12/08/2019

Cystitis is a common type of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) that typically lasts around 3 days. It’s usually caused by bacteria known as Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) entering the urethra (the tube that carries urine out your body) and travelling up, which causes irritation of the bladder.

Generally, women are more likely to have cystitis than men; the NHS believes this is because a woman’s urethra is shorter and closer to the anus, meaning bacteria has less far to travel in order to reach the bladder.

While not usually a cause for concern, cystitis is uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Along with some sore symptoms, you can also feel unwell in yourself with flu-like symptoms.

Some people suffer from recurring cystitis; this is what doctors classify as 3 different occurrences in one year, or 2 episodes in 6 months. Whilst there’s no certainty as to why some people are more prone to cystitis than others, there are a number of useful everyday things to know that could help you prevent it.

I've Had Cystitis Before – Why Has It Come Back?

Unfortunately, some people are more predisposed to cystitis than others, and they may suffer from it more frequently. In these cases, a long-term treatment plan may need to be put into place by a doctor.

There’s also several things which could be increasing your risk for cystitis:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Contraceptive diaphragm
  • Pregnancy
  • Age
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary catheter
  • Wiping back to front, instead of front to back

Those with a weakened immune system, such as the elderly, are at an increased risk of infection.

While some of these are impossible to avoid, being mindful of some of these points may help reduce your risk of another bout of cystitis.

How Can I Decrease My Changes of Getting Cystitis?

The best way to decrease your chances of getting cystitis again are mostly to do with flushing out and preventing a build up of bacteria. Try the following tips:

  • Avoid using scented soaps on intimate areas
  • Try showering rather than bathing
  • Drink lots of water
  • Go to the toilet as soon as possible and empty the bladder fully
  • Always ensure you wipe front to back
  • Urinate as soon as possible after sex
  • Wear loose, comfortable underwear made of breathable fabric

While cranberry juice is a popular preventative method, studies have shown it doesn't make a significant difference.

When Should I Go to The Doctor About It?

If the self-help measures aren't enough, ask your pharmacist for further advice.

If you’re still suffering the symptoms after 3 days, you may need a course of antibiotics such as Trimethoprim in order to shift the infection completely.

You should also see a doctor if you have additional symptoms including fever, blood in your urine or back pain. These symptoms mean you may have a kidney infection, which will require medication.

If you suffer from recurring abdominal pain and struggle to urinate frequently, you may have interstitial cystitis. This bladder condition is not well understood and usually affects middle-aged women. As it isn't caused by bacteria and does not cause an infection within the bladder, antibiotics won’t help to clear it up. It’s important to see a doctor for correct diagnosis.