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55 years
What's Cystitis? How can I prevent it?
Dec 21, 2014

Dr. Zakia Dimassi Pediatrics

Cystitis is the inflammation of the walls of the urinary bladder, usually caused by a bacterial infection traveling up from the urethra (the thin short tube through which urine exits the body). It is a form of urinary tract infection.

There are instances where cystitis occurs without a clear cause, while it may also occur in association with certain daily practices that increase the likelihood of getting cystitis.

Several everyday measures may help prevent cystitis. Because it has been shown that sexual intercourse can cause more bacteria to enter the urethra, it is recommended to urinate soon afterwards in order to flush bacteria out of the urethra. Drinking a lot of water or tea may also be helpful as well. Since the use of sperm-killing agents and diaphragms can also increase the risk of getting cystitis, other methods of contraception should be considered.

Another strategy that is to always wipe themselves from front to back to try to stop intestinal bacteria getting into the vagina and urethra.

Cranberry products are sometimes recommended for the prevention of cystitis. These include cranberry juice or cranberry extract tablets (available in pharmacies). But studies indicate that cranberries cannot prevent cystitis.

Antibiotics can be used as a prophylactic measure to prevent recurrent cystitis. The downside of this method is that they have to be taken over very long time periods, often for six to twelve months, which poses the risk of adverse effects,including digestive problems, rashes and fungal infections in the vagina. What is more worrisome is that using antibiotics over a long period of time carries the risk of bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, which means that these drugs might no longer work.

In menopause, the body produce less of the female sex hormone estrogen,which renders the membranes lining the vagina thinner and drier, hence it becomes easier for bacteria to colonize them, making cystitis more likely. Estrogen creams, applied to the inside of the vagina regularly, can help reduce cystitis in some women. Adverse effects include vaginal itching and burning.