If lingering cystitis (also known as honeymoon cystitis) is bothering you, then this article is a must read!
What is honeymoon cystitis? What causes it? What are its symptoms?
Honeymoon cystitis is a bladder infection that results from sexual activity. It occurs when the bacteria travels in the upward direction from the urethra to the bladder. The bacteria mainly responsible for such infections are Escheria Coli which are found, in small quantities, near the vagina as well as around the anus. Urinary tract infections affect nearly 30% of women and are second to Honeymoon vaginitis.Honeymoon related UTIs are also more common in females who have not been sexually active before. Cystitis could also affect men but the percentage of occurrence is a lot less than that in females.
Here are the symptoms of honeymoon cystitis:
- Painful urination- Determine if the burning is internal or is caused due to minor abrasions resulting from sexual activity.
- Foul smelling, cloudy urine
- Painful cramps above the pubic bone.
Risk factors causing lingering cystitis
- Sexual activity–Sexual intercourse causes bacteria to spread from the perineum to the urethral opening. Often, due to penetration and rubbing, especially when there isn’t adequate lubrication in the vaginal area, the skin becomes irritated and inflamed encouraging the growth of bacteria. This bacteria then transfers to the urethral opening which starts just at the end of the vagina.
- Contraceptives– The use of certain contraceptives is another risk factor for lingering cystitis. In particular, diaphragms or female condoms tend to change the urination pattern causing the bacteria to be inadequately flushed out. Male condoms that are inadequately lubricated can also lead to vaginal abrasion causing bacterial growth. Also, some research has shown that the use of spermicides and harsh feminine douche gels can also cause lingering honeymoon cystitis symptoms owing to allergic reactions.
- Menopause– Honeymoon cystitis symptoms are not just seen in young women but also in menopausal women. This can be attributed to drop in estrogen levels that decrease the elasticity of the vaginal walls making it dry. The pelvic floor tone also changes, causing urine pooling (the urine is not flushed out completely). This leads to increase in bacterial infections of the bladder.
- Changes in urination patterns-Women who do not drink water adequately or those who tend to hold their urine for long durations are also more likely to suffer from frequent UTIs. In both cases, the concentrated urine with its bacteria sits in the bladder. Sometimes, the urine is not flushed out completely which can occur due to following reasons: blockage in the urinary tract, fetal growth (pregnancy), dropping down of pelvic organs-called genital prolapse etc. Use of diaphragms (as mentioned above) or incorrect placement of tampons can also lead to changes in urination patterns.
- Certain diseases– Women with diabetes or spinal cord injuries are also more susceptible to frequent cystitis. In some cases, thrush, vaginal fungal infections etc can also lead to frequent UTIs.
- Other risk factors– Women with a family history of cystitis (especially having a mother suffer frequently from UTIs) are at risk of such infections. Other (less proven) risk factors include wearing tight clothes, underwear, jeans, thongs etc. Also, personal hygiene is of importance – women who wipe from back to front after bowel movement invariable cause the bacteria to come towards their vaginal opening.
Honeymoon cystitis relief
Antibiotics are usually the first line of treatment following cystitis symptoms. You doctor might order a lab test of the urine sample, but this will usually take days for the results to arrive. So s/he might put you on a broad spectrum antibiotic dosage to provide honeymoon cystitis relief and prevent the symptoms from worsening. In addition, women must also:
- Drink plenty of water. Cranberry juice is also known to help.
- Reduce intake of spicy, hot, fried foods, alcoholic beverages, sodas, sugary drinks, caffeine etc. Avoid eating high acidity foods as well as protein rich foods.
- For pain relief, use hot water bags or simply dip a towel in hot water and squeeze out the excess and place it against the abdomen.
- Take urinary alkalinizers. If required, talk to your doctor about pain relief pills.
Preventing lingering cystitis
Honeymoon is a period for enjoying a quiet and much needed relaxed break with your loved one. Do not let honeymoon cystitis wreak havoc on your plans. Use the following steps to prevent honeymoon cystitis symptoms:
- Drink at least 2-3 liters of water
- Avoid holding on; urinate when required. It is especially important to urinate before and after sex to flush out bacteria
- If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, use a lubricant.
- Avoid diaphragms, spermicidal gels and un-lubricated condoms. Discuss alternative forms of contraception with your spouse/doctor.
- Take cranberry pills- research shows these have compounds that prevent the bacteria from getting attached to the bladder lining.
- Consult a qualified herbalist to take preventive herbal formulas, teas or supplements. Certain herbs like parsley, Goldenseal and bearberry are known to be effective in maintaining urinary health.
- Maintain healthy immune system by eating balanced nutritious diet.
- Maintain vaginal pH. A healthy vagina contains discharge that has slight acidity to prevent the bacteria from entering urethral opening. Avoid the use of harsh soaps, bubble baths, gels and douches that tend to mess with the pH of the vagina.
- Avoid wearing tight underwear, thongs etc. Choose comfortable cotton underwear instead.
If you are prone to lingering cystitis, do not forget to pack OTC urinary pain medicines as well as generic antibiotics like Bactrim to prevent the potential nightmare of honeymoon cystitis symptoms.