What is Cystitis?

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder. It's usually caused by an infection in the bladder, but can also be caused by irritation or damage (from friction during sex, for example).

Cystitis usually passes within a few days, or sometimes may need treatment with antibiotics. Untreated bladder infections can cause kidney infections.

Cystitis in women

Cystitis is more common in women because women have a short urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body). The urethra's opening is also located very close to the anus (bottom), which makes it easy for bacteria from the anus to reach the bladder and cause an infection.

Almost all women will have cystitis at least once in their lifetime. Around one in five women who have had cystitis will get it again (known as recurrent cystitis). Cystitis can occur at any age, but it is more common in:

  • pregnant women
  • sexually active women
  • post-menopausal women (women who have been through menopause)

Cystitis in men

Cystitis is less common in men. It can be more serious in men because it could be caused by:

  • an underlying bladder or prostate infection, such as prostatitis
  • an obstruction in the urinary tract, such as a tumour, or an enlarged prostate (the gland located between the penis and the bladder)
  • Male cystitis is not usually serious if treated quickly, but it can be very painful. Sexually active gay men are more likely to get cystitis than other males.


Mild cystitis usually clears up within 4-9 days. You can treat it at home by drinking plenty of water (around 1.2 litres or 6-8 glasses every day) and taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. More severe cystitis can also cause abdominal pain or fever, and may need treatment with antibiotics.

Seeing a doctor

Children and men should always see their GP if they have symptoms of cystitis. Women should always see their GP the first time they have the symptoms of cystitis. They should also return to their GP if they have the condition more than three times in one year.

Over The Counter Remedies

You can buy over-the-counter remedies from any Sedem Pharmacy or from our online shop, containing Sodium Citrate or Potassium Citrate which reduce the acidity of the urine, and make it more comfortable to go to the loo, while your body sorts out the infection.

If symptoms persist you may need to see your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics in some cases.