What is cystitis?
Symptoms of cystitis
Cystitis typically causes an urge to urinate (wee), the need to pass urine frequently and a burning or stinging feeling when you urinate. Occasionally, cystitis can cause feverish symptoms, discomfort in your lower tummy and blood in your urine.
Cystitis is usually caused by bacteria in your bladder or urethra (the tube that carries wee out of your body). It's more common in women than in men because women have a shorter urethra, located near to the anus, so it comes into contact with bacteria more easily.
How to treat cystitis
The first-choice treatment for cystitis is an antibiotic called Nitrofurantoin. This must be prescribed, and you can request this through our service.
Mild symptoms of UTIs can clear up on their own within a few days. You should drink plenty of water and refrain from sexual intercourse during this time. Over-the-counter painkillers can also be taken to help relieve pain or discomfort.
Our cystitis clinic
Request the treatment and complete your questionnaire. We will use this information to ensure that the treatment is safe and suitable for you. Nitrofurantoin is available to collect from over 7000 ParcelShop locations or you can collect in a LloydsPharmacy store.
Doctor's cystitis advice
We recommend you seek treatment for cystitis as soon as you experience symptoms to avoid unnecessary discomfort or complications. Very mild cases of cystitis can sometimes resolve within a few days by using painkillers and drinking clear fluids, without the need for antibiotics. However, symptoms can sometimes last for a week if you do not take antibiotics.
You might find cystitis flares up after sex, because bacteria can come into contact with your urethra. A good way of guarding against it is making sure you urinate (wee) after sexual intercourse. When using the toilet, always wipe from front to back, and wash daily with a gentle product.
Possible complications of cystitis
If left untreated, the infection in your urethra and bladder can travel to your kidneys. This is very painful, causes a high temperature (38C+ or 100.4F+), plus chills, feeling sick and diarrhoea in some cases. If you experience these symptoms, visit your GP or local walk-in centre for treatment as soon as possible.
How long does cystitis last?
Mild cases of cystitis typically last a couple of days and in most cases will clear up on its own. If after 3 days symptoms do not clear up, you can seek treatment.
Some women experience frequent episodes of cystitis, this might need regular or long-term treatment.
Why do I keep getting cystitis?
Often there is no obvious cause for recurrent cystitis. It can sometimes be a change in the body’s ability to resist bacteria getting into the bladder, like some people are more prone to colds and sore throats than others.
Other factors that can contribute to recurrent cystitis include:
- Bladder or kidney problems
- Having sex
- Diaphragms and spermicide
- Hormonal changes
Cystitis vs other types of UTIs
Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder caused by a UTI. Cystitis is known as a lower UTI as it affects the lower portion of the urinary tract which includes the urethra or bladder. Lower UTIs tend to have mild symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics.
Upper UTIs affect the upper part of the urinary tract which can include the kidneys. These infections (kidney infections) are more serious with more painful symptoms. They may not go away on their own and so require urgent antibiotic treatment.
A UTI, not an STI
It's important to know that cystitis is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Sex can cause an episode of cystitis, because of the transfer of bacteria to your urethra, but it's not contagious so you can't give it to or catch it from a sexual partner.
We do recommend that you avoid sex for a few days while taking cystitis treatment, to avoid reintroducing new bacteria.
If you think you might have an STI, visit our STI test clinic for more advice.