Can you still have sex when you have cystitis?


A very common medical condition in women is cystitis. Nearly 1 in 5 twenty-somethings and people older than 60 get cystitis every year. The main cause is sex. So how can you prevent a bladder infection? And can you have sex when you have cystitis?

Why does sex cause cystitis?

Cystitis is caused by an intestinal bacteria in the urethra. Women have shorter urethras than men, which means they are more likely to get a bladder infection. Sex, and penetration in particular, increases those odds even more. That is why cystitis is most common among the most sexually active group: the twenty-somethings. Other causes of cystitis are:

  • Menopause; after the menopause, there aren’t as much vaginal bacteria present in the body that can fight intestinal bacteria
  • Deviation or disease of the bladder or urinary tract
  • Weakened immune system
  • Genes; cystitis can be partially hereditary

Symptoms of cystitis

The main symptom of cystitis is the constant feeling of having to urinate, even when your bladder is empty. While urinating, or trying to urinate, you feel pressure or sometimes even a light sting in your lower abdomen. Other symptoms of cystitis are:

  • Stomach ache
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Blood in your urine
  • Decreased bladder control
  • Difficulty urinating

Can you still have sex when you have cystitis?

Many people wonder if they can still have sex when they have a bladder infection. Yes, you can. Firstly, cystitis isn’t contagious, and secondly, cystitis won’t get worse if you’re careful while having sex. It is important however not to force anything if you’re in pain. It’s also essential to urinate immediately after sex to rinse out your urethra. This is a useful tip for preventing cystitis as well.

Sex tips for when you have a bladder infection

Usually a bladder infection clears up on its own within a week. During this week, you can have sex if you want to, on the condition that you take it slow. So for those who can’t wait a whole week to have sex, here are a couple of important tips:

  • Urinate before and after having sex
  • Deep penetration is not advisable
  • Don’t go for sex positions that put pressure on your abdominal wall
  • Use lubricant
  • Consider lazy sex
  • Put a hot water bottle on your belly or take a shower or bath

What to do when you have cystitis?

Prevention is better than cure, so the following tips are mainly useful for prevention. Still, we also advise trying these tips when you already have cystitis:

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water during the day
  • Take your time to urinate. Don’t put too much pressure on your bladder
  • Always wipe front to back after urinating
  • Boost your immune system with a sufficient amount of vitamin D and C
  • According to a number of studies, cranberries can have a positive influence on your bladder. Even though not all scientists agree, it’s worth a try. You can eat/drink cranberry products and there are also cranberry pills available
  • Do you want to have vaginal sex after you’ve had anal sex? Always put on a new condom or clean your penis in between

Antibiotics for cystitis

In most cases, cystitis clears up on its own within a week. But if you experience severe symptoms or if the cystitis hasn’t cleared up after a week, your doctor can prescribe antibacterial products or antibiotics. It usually takes one or two days for the symptoms to disappear. Until then, you can take painkillers to relieve the pain. It’s important that you complete the course of antibiotics, even if your cystitis cleared up. Don’t be alarmed if your urine is darker than usual while you’re on antibiotics.

Also read: Bacterial vaginosis: what is it and what can you do about it?

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