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What is it?

Cystitis is an inflammation of the inside lining of the bladder. It can affect women and girls of any age and is quite common. The entrance to a woman’s urethra (water passage), vagina and anus (back passage) are very close together and bacteria and nitrates from the skin can travel easily up into the bladder. It is less common in men/boys because their urethra is much longer than a womans/girl’s.

How did I get it?

By bacteria, which usually live around the anus travelling up the urethra and infecting the bladder. This can happen when you insert tampons, by washing or wiping your bottom from back to front or when you have sex.

Sometimes, vaginal deodorants, perfumed soaps, bubble bath/shower gel, washing powder or talc can cause chemical changes, which can cause it.

The urethra is very close to the vagina, so friction and rubbing during sex or from wearing tight clothes can cause it.

Occasionally spermicides (used in condoms) can cause it. You can get condoms with non-spermicidal lubricants in them.

What are the symptoms?

You may experience one or more of the following:

  • A burning or stinging sensation when passing urine.

  • A need to pass urine more often than you normally do.

  • A feeling of being desperate to go to the toilet, although you may not pass much urine.

  • A dragging pain in your abdomen or lower back.

  • A fever (temperature).

  • You may feel sick.

  • You may notice some blood in your urine.

What will it do to me?

Having cystitis can be very distressing and uncomfortable but it rarely causes any serious health problems.

Where can I go?

Sexual Health Clinic/GUM, or a Doctor or Pharmacist.

Can it be treated?

Yes, you may need a course of antibiotics if an infection is found. There are a lot of things that you can do to help the symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of water to help flush out the germs. This will also dilute your urine making it less painful to pass. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as these can cause more irritation.

  • Take some simple painkillers.

  • Rest and relax.

  • Some women find drinking Barley water or Cranberry juice helps.

You should have a check up for other infections at your local GUM/Sexual Health Clinic if your Cystitis symptoms do not clear up. They may be caused by a sexually transmitted infection.

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