Cystitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

cystitis symptomsCystitis can be a very embarrassing and painful condition, however if you’ve been suffering from cystitis it may be reassuring to know that you’re not alone. In fact cystitis affects nearly every woman during her lifetime, with around 1 in 5 experiencing recurrent episodes.

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder and is usually a mild condition, although it sometimes requires antibiotic treatment to bring it under control. However, occasionally the infection can travel up into the kidneys, so it’s important to be aware of what the typical symptoms of cystitis are.


The most common symptom of cystitis is pain while passing water. This can vary from a slight discomfort to a burning sting. It can also create the feeling of needing to use the toilet frequently and urine may be cloudy and blood stained.

If you have never had cystitis before and you can relate to these symptoms, then it’s important to go to a doctor to be properly diagnosed.

If the infection spreads to the kidneys it can lead to a more serious infection called pyelonephritis. Symptoms of pyelonephritis include high fever, shivering and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms then seek urgent medical attention.


Bacterial Infection

Cystitis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria can multiply in the bladder if it isn’t emptied fully. Bacteria from the anus can also be transferred into the body via the urethra. For women this can happen during sex and while wiping. Always wipe from front to back to minimise this risk.

Damage/ Irritation

In addition to a bacterial infection, in women cystitis can be caused by damage to the area around the urethra. Frequent or rough sex is one cause, while chemical irritants should also be avoided. Tight clothing can also irritate the area.


Cystitis frequently clears up on its own within 4-9 days, so medical treatment isn’t always necessary. During this time it’s good to drink lots of water. Citrate sachets that lower the acidity of urine can also help.

However, if you’re experiencing severe discomfort your GP may prescribe a course of antibiotics. The most widely used cystitis treatment is Trimethoprim , which usually cures over 90% of infections.


  • Wear natural cotton underwear  instead of synthetic materials
  • Avoid using perfumed products around your genitals
  • Don’t wear tight trousers
  • Drink plenty and urinate frequently
  • Empty your bladder after intercourse (for women)

The causes of cystitis vary from woman to woman, so if you are getting repeated episodes it’s important to keep an eye out for potential triggers.