Frequently Asked Questions

The below questions are answered by leading expert Dr Catherine Hood.

Q “What can be done to prevent cystitis that has been treated with antibiotics, but comes back?”

Having sex, the menopause and kidney problems can all contribute to recurrent cystitis, but for many women there is no apparent cause. Firstly I would suggest asking a GP for a urine sample test to see which bacterium is causing the cystitis. People can become resistant to one antibiotic and need a different one to help the problem.

If the cystitis is related to having sex, the person could try going to the toilet immediately after sex, using a lubricating jelly during sex and avoiding spermicides and/or the diaphragm for contraception. Ask a GP or practice nurse for advice about other forms of contraception.

Q “Is an aching, pulsating bladder a sign of cystitis?”

Pain or discomfort in the lower abdominal region is a common symptom of cystitis, which can be helped by taking paracetamol or ibuprofen - a pharmacist will be able to recommend a suitable analgesic. If this does not help to ease the pain then sufferers should visit a GP.

Q “Does cystitis cause symptoms such as a burning sensation when passing water, abdominal pain and feeling feverish? Is it really caused by sex?"

Cystitis can cause pain on passing urine, needing to go to the loo frequently and a fever. A GP, pharmacist or practice nurse will be able to confirm this is the correct diagnosis.

Some women find they are prone to cystitis within a day or so of having sex. This may be partly due to the movements during sex, which may push bacteria up into the bladder. A good way to help reduce the chances of this happening is to empty the bladder just before and just after sexual intercourse to flush out bacteria from the bladder.

Q “Can cystitis be passed on sexually?”

Having sexual intercourse can cause cystitis in some women although it is not a sexually transmitted disease.

Q “Can cranberry juice really help prevent cystitis?”

There is some evidence to suggest that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets can help to prevent cystitis. However, there is little evidence to say that it helps with the symptoms.

Drinking plenty of water during an attack will help to flush out the bladder.