What is it?
Cystitis is inflammation of your bladder, usually caused by a bladder infection.
It is more common in women.
What are the Symptoms?
Suspect cystitis if you:
- need to go to the toilet to pee more often than usual and without much warning
- when you do go you pass only small amounts and it hurts
Some people with cystitis also feel feverish and generally unwell and have a dull ache in the lower part of their abdomen or in their back (see below for more information about when you should see your GP).
What is it caused by?
It can be caused by germs entering your bladder through the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra).
It is not always clear why this happens but some things can increase your risk of getting it, such as:-
- having sex
- wiping your bottom from back to front after going to the toilet
- being pregnant
- using a diaphragm for contraception
- having diabetes
- having a weakened immune system
What can I do to make myself feel better?
If you are worried and especially if it is the first time you have had these symptoms get advice from your GP (see below for more details). Cystitis often clears up on its own after a few days. Until this happens there are things you can do to make yourself feel better.
- take a mild pain killer such as paracetamol
- hold a hot water bottle on your tummy or between your thighs
- drink lots of water to help flush out the infection
- pee frequently
- avoid sex until cystitis has gone away
- wipe from front to back when you go to the toilet
Should I see my GP?
See your GP if:
- this is the first time you have cystitis
- your symptoms are getting worse or not improving within a few days
- if you have a fever, bad abdominal or back pain or blood in your urine. These can be signs that infection has spread from your bladder to your kidneys.
- you get cystitis while you are pregnant. Antibiotics can prevent possible complications for you or your baby
- you keep getting cystitis
- you're a man and have symptoms of cystitis
Sometimes Chlamydia infection can cause similar symptoms and you should consider having a Chlamydia test
How do you get tested for cystitis?
The nurse or doctor may ask you for a sample of your urine. It is best not to collect this before you visit as you will need to pass urine into a special container you will be given. The sample for cystitis cannot be tested for Chlamydia so if you are concerned about chlamydia please tell the doctor or nurse so they can arrange for the correct test for this.
How is it treated?
Sometimes cystitis is best treated with antibiotics. Your doctor or nurse can also rule out other infections with similar symptoms.
How can I best prevent infection?
The following can reduce your chances of getting cystitis in the future:
- keep clean (but overwashing especially with perfumed products can damage the skin and allow germs to multiply). Avoid perfumed soap or shower gels.
- have a shower rather than a bath
- after going to the toilet always wipe yourself from front to back to avoid the germs from your bowel reaching the bladder
- drink plenty of fluids
- go to the toilet when you need to rather than holding on
- wearing cotton pants and looser fitting trousers reduce the risk of inflammation
- regularly drinking cranberry juice may prevent cystitis
- do not use a diaphragm for contraception
- women who get cystitis after sex should try peeing before and after sex and using lubricating jelly (this needs to be water based if also using condoms)
Drinking cranberry juice has traditionally been recommended as a way of reducing your chances of getting cystitis, however studies suggest it does not make a significant difference.
Testing and treatment is available from:
If you wish to be seen or are seeking sexual health advice:
Mon - Fri 9.00am - 4.00pm
- General Practitioners
Tel: 0345 702 3687 for other appointments