Bladder Infection

Bladder infection (Cystitis (sis-TIE-tis)) is caused by different types of bacteria which can enter the bladder through the urethra (the tube connecting the bladder and the urinary opening).

Cystitis is commonly caused when bacteria on the skin from the vagina or from the rectum enter the urinary tract. Cystitis may result from sexual activity, including intercourse, especially if you have only recently become sexually active or have not had sex for a long time.

Symptoms

The symptoms of cystitis usually begin with a burning sensation when you urinate. This is followed by a frequent need to urinate in small amounts and a feeling of pressure in the abdomen.

As the infection progresses, the urine may become cloudy, contain blood or have an unpleasant odor. Sometimes this is accompanied by cramps, a low-grade fever or back pain.

Treatment

If you notice these symptoms, see a clinician as soon as possible. A specimen of your urine will be taken to confirm that you have a bladder infection.

Cystitis is usually treated with antibiotics and possibly a bladder anesthetic to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms.

Follow your clinician’s instructions and be sure to take all of your medication to eradicate the infection completely. If you discontinue medication too early, the infection may reoccur in one to three weeks.

While on medication, drink plenty of liquids, at least 10-12 glasses a day. Avoid alcohol and any liquids containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola.

It is advised that you abstain from sexual activity while being treated for cystitis. In the future, if you have sex, you may use additional lubricant, such as KY Jelly or Astroglide with lubricated condoms, to help prevent irritation or friction.

Prevention

  1. Get in the habit of drinking lots of water and juice every day, 8 to 10 glasses (8 oz.) are recommended daily.
  2. Always wipe from the front to the back after urination or a bowel movement.
  3. Urinate at least every 2-3 hours while awake, or whenever you feel the need to go. Avoid “holding” urine for long periods.
  4. If you are sexually active, urinate before and after sex. This helps flush out any bacteria that might become lodged in the urethra opening during sex.
  5. Use additional lubrication, if needed, for intercourse.
  6. A daily bath or shower is recommended. Use of a mild soap is preferred. Avoid scented bath products.
  7. Good hand washing is very important. Make sure your partner’s hands are clean prior to any sexual contact.
Sexual Health Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Contraception