From sex to bladder infection: honeymoon cystitis

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I love having sex. Annoyingly I tend to contract a mean bladder infection a couple of days later. It’s a common phenomenon. In fact, it’s so common that it has been given its own name: honeymoon cystitis. But what exactly are the causes of the infection? And why do women suffer from it more often than men? We present the facts, answers and tips.

It’s just not fair. You have sex, maybe even really great sex, and then a couple of days later it hurts when you go to the toilet. That’s a bladder infection in the making. Hell! Please, not again! It seems as if every time I have sex I get a bladder infection. Admittedly, I currently have a rather active sex life with my partner. Yet, he never gets cystitis (that’s the clinical name). Why? Because female bodies are built differently and sadly are more prone to cystitis.

Why women are more prone to bladder infection

Women contract cystitis more easily because their urethra sits between the clitoris and vagina – bang on in the middle so to speak. The pathogens causing cystitis are usually enterobacteria such as Escherichia coli (or E. coli). These can spread from the woman’s or partner’s anal region to the genital area and reach the urethra and eventually the bladder. In men, the germs not only have to travel along a urethra five-times the length of a woman’s but are also generally exterminated along the way. Lucky men!

By the way, the term ‘honeymoon cystitis’ doesn’t define a special kind of cystitis. It just describes the fact that couples tend to have more sex when newly in love or during their honeymoon. As such, the risk of contracting a bladder infection from sex is increased.

Additionally, the risk of cystitis is higher if a woman has sex with a new partner for the first time. The germs of a new partner may destabilize the sensitive female genital flora, thus increasing the likelihood of infection. Alternatively, you may just suffer from a weak immune system, much like myself. Indeed, mine has been so weak over the past year that I’ve constantly suffered a bladder infection in addition to colds and bronchitis.

Bladder infection from sex: how can you prevent one

Women that suffer from the infection don’t have to accept their fate. There are ways to avoid cystitis. After sex, women should quickly use the toilet, to immediately flush out any possible germs that have already reached the urethra. Drinking lots of water is also recommended so that taking a pee after sex is easier. If you’ve performed anal sex, don’t immediately move on to vaginal penetration without using a condom, as there is a higher risk of germs spreading. In general, condoms help to prevent infection. If you are in a relationship, however, you may no longer wish to use condoms. So here’s another tip: use a lubricant around the urethra opening. This makes it harder for bacteria to enter the urethra and then reach the bladder.

What if I haven’t been able to prevent a bladder infection caused by sex?

Be patient and drink tea – literally. Specially formulated cystitis tea is available, and sufferers are recommended to consume plenty of it in order to flush the pathogens out of their system. Warmth can help too: perhaps a hot water bottle or a bath. Try to rest and sleep as much as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, suppress the urge to urinate. Give in to the fact that it will take time to recover. If the bladder infection isn’t cured after a week, visit a doctor. If you can, try to not have sex. Honestly though, that’s hardly an option.

Photo by Jye B on Unsplash

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