Cystitis is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) that can last for a few days, with the most common symptoms including the constant urge to urinate and a burning sensation when peeing. There are numerous causes for Cystitis, including falling estrogen levels during menopause, using a birth control diaphragm, and even from changing tampons (if susceptible to UTIs, perhaps look at changing from tampons to menstrual cups).
However Honeymoon Cystitis is caused by sexual intercourse and almost only ever in women. This is for two reasons, firstly that a woman’s urethra is much shorter than a mans, and secondly because of the close proximity of the vaginal opening and anus to the urethral entrance.
Honeymoon Cystitis is typically caused when the bacteria E. Coli is spread to the urethral opening either from the anus or the vagina, from there it moves up into the bladder where the trouble starts. Despite originating from penetrative sex, Honeymoon Cystisis is not a STI. As such, and while safe sex is always recommended, condoms do not prevent Honeymoon Cystisis, and some studies even indicate a higher chance of getting a UTI with the use of condoms (perhaps try a non-latex condom if you have reactions to your current choice of protection).
Some of the typical symptoms of Honeymoon Cystitis are:
- A strong and persistent desire to pass urine
- A sensation of burning while passing urine
- Passing a small quantity of urine frequently
- Hematuria (presence of blood in your urine)
- Foamy urine, sometimes with a strong smell
- Low-grade fever
- Feeling discomfort in the pelvis or lower abdominal region
While the spread of the E. Coli bacteria is the cause of this UTI, there are two completely different ideas as to what makes someone more susceptible. Some say it is the first time of penetrative sex after a long spell of abstinence. The other end of the spectrum says that it can happen after intensive or frequent penetrative sex.
However both sides of this agree on ways to prevent Honeymoon Cystitis:
- Urinate immediately after intercourse to ensure you eject any bacteria that could have entered the urethra
- Drink plenty of water every day
- Always wipe front to back to avoid bacterial spread
- Using a good water based lubricant, even if there are no issues with vaginal dryness, will help provide a good glide and prevent micro tears, especially around the vulva and vaginal opening.
It is recommended to see your GP should you experience any of those above symptoms, as some of these also overlap with symptoms of a few Sexually Transmitted Infections that only a blood test will be able to reveal. If it is Honeymoon Cystitis, your GP will probably suggest the following:
- Prescribe a short course of antibiotics
- Maintain fluids
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid more penetrative sex
- Cranberries (as in the actual fruit) may help with an active ingredient that prevents bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. However, cranberry juice or capsules may not be potent enough for this to happen. In fact, despite popular belief, cranberry juice adds hippuric acid to urine, and Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, and actually feeds the bacteria that cause UTIs.
On a final note, while you can indeed have penetrative sex while suffering Honeymoon Cystitis, as it isn’t an infection that can be passed on to the other partner, you will feel extra discomfort and even exacerbate the problem even further.
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