February 27, 2023
WHAT IS IT?
Many people with vaginas (PWV) get cystitis; around 1 in 3 PWV will experience cystitis at some point in their lives.
Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder. This can be caused by infection from germs from your bowels or urine stagnating in your bladder. It might also be due to wearing clothes that are too tight, or using perfumed bubble bath, soap or talcum powder that irritate your skin.
You may have cystitis if you:
- urgently and frequently need to go to the toilet to pass urine
- can only pass small amounts of urine, and it hurts when you do
- feel feverish and generally unwell
- have a dull ache in your stomach and back.
Cystitis often clears up on its own after a few days. There are things
you can do to make yourself more comfortable but if you are worried you can get advice from your doctor.
- Take mild painkillers for the pain and to reduce a temperature.
- A hot water bottle laid on your stomach or sitting at the base of your back may be soothing.
- You may want to avoid sex until the cystitis has gone -- sex can further irritate cystitis.
- Cutting down on caffeine and alcohol, sticking to a low-acid diet (no spicy food or citrus fruits) and simple remedies (like taking bicarbonate
- of soda mixed with water) can stop the burning feeling when you go to the toilet.
- Drinking lots of water may help flush out the infection, though this means you'll need to go to the toilet even more.
You can also reduce the risk of getting cystitis in future:
- Maintain personal hygiene but don't overdo it. Too much washing, especially with perfumed products, can damage the skin and allow germs to thrive.
- Take showers instead of baths for less contact with chemicals in cleaning products.
- After going to the toilet, always wipe your bottom from front to back to avoid transferring germs from your bowels to your bladder.
- Drink plenty of fluids and go to the toilet when you need to --- try not to 'hang on' or stop mid-stream as this gives germs a chance to linger and cause infections.
- Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding wearing tight jeans and trousers all reduce the risk of irritation.
- Some PWV get cystitis after sex, possibly because it damages the skin or transfers germs. There's less risk of infection if you empty your bladder before and straight after sex.
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