What is Cystitis?

Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder, which makes you want to go to the loo to pass urine more often. It can make urinating uncomfortable, and even painful, and it can make you feel as if you want to 'go' more often, sometimes urgently.

The symptoms of cystitis can be inconvenient at best and distressing at worst, although the problem is easily treated.

In case you're wondering, the amount of urine you produce obviously varies according to what you've been eating or drinking, but in mild climates it's quite normal to produce anything between 800mls and 2.5 litres a day. The main thing is that it should be the colour of straw and painless to pass.

What causes Cystitis?

There are lots of things that can cause or exacerbate cystitis so it can be a case of trial and error when it comes to working out what's triggering it for you.


Hormonal changes
In some women, simple things like hormonal changes can bring on an attack. If you're going through the menopause, for example, your oestrogen levels could drop and this in turn causes irritation in the urethra (the tube that takes urine from the bladder) leading to cystitis. If this is happening to you, speak to your doctor as he may be able to prescribe oestrogen pessaries or cream to help 'plump up' the tissues and reduce the number of attacks.



Smoking is a no-no if you're prone to cystitis, as nicotine irritates the lining of the bladder. You know it's bad for you anyway, but smokers tend to be more prone to the condition. If you're a smoker and a regular cystitis sufferer, you know what you have to do...



Not drinking enough fluids
Not drinking enough fluids can sometimes be a trigger and is certainly one of the worst things you could do if you're having an attack of cystitis. Even though you really don't feel like having to keep going back to the loo, if you drink too little it can make your urine more concentrated, and so it makes cystitis worse.



Vigorous sex
Vigorous sex or sex when you're not fully lubricated can tend to lead to cystitis in some women, and some women who use a diaphragm or spermicidal-coated condoms for contraception are also more prone to attacks. If you use them regularly, and regularly get cystitis, it might be worth trying another type or changing your contraception.



Scented soaps
Scented soaps and bubble baths can alter the pH of the skin and encourage bacterial growth.



The most common symptoms of Cystitis are:

  • Burning or stinging sensations when you pass urine
  • A frequent urge to urinate
  • Feeling that you can't fully empty your bladder

If you are experiencing more severe Cystitis, your symptoms may include:

  • Strong smelling urine
  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Abdominal pain or backache
  • Fever, temperature and weakness

These symptoms are much less common and if you experience any of these, you should see your GP as it may indicate a more serious infection.