Cystitis simply means soreness and swelling of the bladder and is a common type of UTI (urinary tract infection).
Its usually caused by a bladder infection and can occur at any age with anybody, however, it is more common with those who have a vagina whose sexually active or pregnant.
Almost all vaginas with experience cystitis at least once in their lifetime and around 1 in 5 will get it multiple times.
Symptoms of Cystitis
- A desperate need to pee constantly but only being able to wee tiny amounts.
- Pain when you pee
- Pain directly above your pubic area, lower back or abdomen.
- Dark, smelly or cloudy pee
- Traces of bloody when you pee
Causes of Cystitis
Cystitis is usually caused by bad bacteria entering the bladder and causing an infection. It’s more common with people who have vaginas as they have shorter urethras.
It can also be caused by not entering your bladder properly (common during pregnancy), bacteria being transferred from the anus to the urethra (usually from sex), not wiping from front to back or from using soap down there. STIs like gonorrhoea or chlamydia can also cause this.
Treatments for Cystitis
If it’s mild, it can be easily treated at home and should pass within a few days, however, if its more serious, a short course of antibiotics can be prescribed.
You can also take paracetamol, use a hot water bottle, drink lots of water (helps your body flush it out) and wee every time you feel the urge.
Did you know? Drinking cranberry juice has traditionally been recommended as a way of reducing your chances of getting cystitis. BUT large studies have suggested it does not make a significant difference.
A great service i've recently discovered is the Boots UTI testing app called Dip UTI. This allows you to find out if you have cystitis(UTI) and get antibiotics there and then instead of waiting for a GP appointment - great for if you are far from home!
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginal discharge and basically upsets the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.
Symptoms of BV
It can only occur with those who have a vagina and half of all people will not even experience symptoms however, it is more common in those who are sexually active with a vagina.
BV does not cause itchiness or soreness, so if you find discharge coupled up with those symptoms it is most probably another infection.
The most common symptom is abnormal discharge (different to your usual discharge) and it can be white/grey, watery and have a strong fishy odour – particularly after sex.
Causes of BV
It isn’t fully known what causes bacterial vaginosis but it can be passed between sexual partners who both have vaginas but cannot be passed from a vagina to a penis.
You are more likely to contract BV is you use scented soaps and bath bombs, have an IUD, douche or smoke.
Treatments for BV
It can go away itself, however, it’s usually treated with antibioitcs or a cream/gel. It is not serious unless you are pregnant and even then it can be easily treated.
Did you know? Some of the creams given for your vagina can breakdown latex condoms, so make sure you check with your doctor.
Why Should We Always Pee After Sex?
Peeing after sex isn’t essential but it is super beneficial.
It can help prevent UTIs like Cystitis by flushing out the bad bacteria that may have entered your urethra.
If you are prone to STIs this is a super important habit to stick to, alongside wiping front to back if you have a vulva.
Peeing won’t prevent pregnancy — even if you go seconds after ejaculate is released.
What if I don’t need to pee?
Try and drink more water before you have sex/30 mins after or use visual cues like running the tap.