Most women will have an attack of cystitis in their lives, with many suffering numerous bouts every year. Defined by the National Health Service (NHS) as an inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by a bladder infection, merely mentioning the C word can send shivers through women and men, who can also get it, but do so less frequently.
Cystitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, when bacteria makes its way into the urethra. Common causes are through sex, tight underwear or trousers that rub, wiping the wrong way after going to the toilet, using a tampon on a diaphragm, and not emptying your bladder fully after urinating. Diabetes patients may also find they suffer more due to high levels of sugar in the urine and women going through the menopause are at risk too as the lining of the urethra can shrink and become thinner because of a lack of the hormone oestrogen.
Cystitis can also be caused by damage or irritation to the urethra and bladder and has been linked to the recreational use of the drug ketamine.
Getting cystitis for the very first time can be a frightening experience, but knowing the tell-tale signs should help to ease your worry. Look out for:
A strong, persistent urge to urinate
A burning sensation when urinating
Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
Passing cloudy or strong-smelling urine
Pelvic and lower back discomfort
If you catch your cystitis quick enough you can probably treat it with over the counter medication, but if you notice blood in your urine contact your doctor as you may need antibiotics. Also if you get it for the first time, it’s also advisable to seek medical help.