Combating Cystitis: Essential Guide to Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment

Intimate Health - Cystitis

It is time to end the taboo on intimate health issues. Embarrassment and shyness may often make an individual hesitant to seek help and advice when needed or seek incorrect advice. So, let’s bust the taboo and discuss Cystitis!

The Vagina

The vagina is a self-regulating muscle that keeps itself moist, clean and works to maintain acidic pH levels. The vagina keeps itself lubricated through the production of natural vaginal discharge, the consistency and quantity of which is affected by a variety of factors, including hormonal changes, particularly oestrogen. 

Cystitis: It’s more common than you think!

The presence of bacteria on the skin and vaginal area is usual. Sometimes bacteria enters the vagina and results in a urinary tract infection (UTI). Though Cystitis is a common infection in women, it is very irritating and uncomfortable. Typical symptoms include inflammation of the bladder, cloudy or dark urine, feeling generally unwell, pain and changes to urination (difficulty, increased frequency and urgency, although the bladder may not feel empty). Sometimes, the urine may smell.

Common Causes of  Cystitis

Common causes of Cystitis include:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Use of harsh chemicals and soaps
  3. Dehydration
  4. Certain contraceptives
  5. Immunocompromising conditions and medication
  6. Wearing tight or irritating clothes
  7. Excessive alcohol consumption

Note: If you are concerned about your symptoms or have other symptoms not listed in this article, please seek further medical advice.

Over-the-counter treatments for Cystitis

Paracetamol or ibuprofen

  • For mild pain associated with Cystitis.

Products which contain potassium citrate, e.g. Cystopurin

  • It prevents bacterial growth by reducing the acidity of urine.
  • Sachets need to be mixed with water.
  • It is not to be taken by someone who is on a potassium-restricted diet or if you have any heart-related or blood pressure conditions.
  • Check with your pharmacist or doctor if you are taking any other medications.

Products which contain sodium citrate, e.g. Canesten Oasis, Care Cystitis Relief

  • Not to be taken by someone who is on a sodium-restricted diet or if the individual is pregnant or has heart conditions or blood pressure conditions.
  • It prevents bacterial growth by reducing the acidity of urine.
  • Sachets need to be mixed with water.
  • Check with your pharmacist or doctor if you are taking any other medications.

NOTE: Read patient information leaflets carefully before using any of these products. Seek further medical advice if any of the following applies to you: male, pregnant, breastfeeding, younger than 16, older than 60, taking any medications, or having any medical conditions.

It is easy to treat Cystitis over the counter if it is legally and clinically appropriate. Although over-the-counter treatments can offer symptomatic relief, it is essential to get to the root of the problem and treat the infection, or else it will return!

That’s sexist! Why am I denied over-the-counter cystitis treatment?

Due to the anatomy of men, Cystitis is less common in men as a woman’s urethra is shorter, making the latter more prone to vaginal infections. Therefore, if you are a man and you develop cystitis symptoms, you will need to see your GP to eliminate any underlying conditions and to obtain a more suitable treatment.

When should I see my GP?

  • If you are taking any other medication
  • Presence of discharge, nausea, vomiting, fever or pain in the sides or vaginal region
  • Pregnant women
  • Women over the age of 60
  • Men with symptoms of Cystitis
  • Girls under the age of 16
  • Blood in the urine
  • Symptoms that have not resolved after three days
  • Frequently affected by Cystitis
  • If you are concerned about your symptoms or you may have other symptoms which were not mentioned above

*If you have diabetes, do not delay seeking medical advice from your doctor if you develop Cystitis, as it may be a sign of poorly controlled blood glucose levels, even if you feel otherwise fine.

Where can I get more information on Cystitis?

NHS website on Cystitis

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