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PREVENT

Don’t let cystitis interrupt the honeymoon

If you've ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI)—and half of women have—you know the symptoms: a burning or painful sensation during urination, the urge to go frequently, pain above the pubic bone, and cloudy or blood-tinged urine. Cystitis is a common form of UTI that can happen after a woman's first sexual encounter or after a period of abstinence, which is how it earned the nickname, "honeymoon cystitis."

It is more common among women in their 20s, but is also seen in older women re-entering the dating scene. In addition to being very uncomfortable, if left untreated, cystitis can lead to bladder or kidney infection. Why don’t men seem to get cystitis? Women are more prone to UTIs than men because of their anatomy; the female urethra is short and therefore it’s easier to allow bacteria to enter the bladder. 

If you think you have cystitis, see your doctor. Once your doctor confirms cystitis, he or she will likely prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. In very painful cases, a short-term pain reliever may be prescribed. I advise women to abstain from sex until the infection clears up.

How can you avoid contracting cystitis? Drinking plenty of water and urinating often helps to flush out the bladder and urethra to eliminate bacteria. And it helps to urinate immediately after sex to help expel any bacteria that might have gotten into the urethra. 

If you are susceptible to UTIs, try to maintain a healthy immune system and avoid drinking too much coffee, soda and fruit juice if they irritate your bladder. Some people report drinking cranberry juice on a regular basis can help protect them from cystitis, but cranberry juice does not actually cure a bladder infection once you've got one.

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