If you spent the weekend or vacation mainly between the sheets and now have to go to the toilet more often or feel a burning sensation when urinating, you have probably caught a bladder infection after sex.

The bad news for all people with a vulva: Cystitis, the technical term for a bladder infection, primarily affects women. There are anatomical reasons for this: “Women generally get a bladder infection more quickly than men because they have a very short urethra. Bacteria can overcome these few centimeters and get into the urinary bladder,” says doctor Nina Buschek to “NetDoktor”. In addition, the entrance to the urethra in women is closer to the anus. Bacteria, more specifically intestinal bacteria of the species Escherichia coli, trigger a bladder infection in most cases. The presence of these bacteria in the intestine is normal, but once they reach the bladder, they can cause inflammation.

The term honeymoon cystitis suggests that an extended romantic weekend with frequent sexual intercourse can be the trigger for a bladder infection. “The mechanical friction during sexual intercourse literally pushes the bacteria into the urinary bladder,” explains Nina Buschek. Frequent sex promotes bladder infections due to irritation in the intimate area and changes in the vaginal environment. Intestinal bacteria can pass from the vagina through the urethra into the bladder during sexual intercourse. Certain contraceptive methods such as a diaphragm and spermicides also promote cystitis.

But there are a few tips to prevent honeymoon cystitis. Probably the most important rule: urinate as quickly as possible after sex. When the bladder is emptied, the bacteria are also flushed out. But a mistake can also be made when going to the toilet: the correct wiping technique should be used so as not to wipe bacteria from the anus towards the vulva. So always swipe from front to back, informs the National Health Service (NHS). The skin around the vagina should also be washed with water before and after sex. Also not a good idea: have vaginal intercourse immediately after anal sex – this way the bacteria can get directly into the vagina. The intimate area should be kept clean and dry. If you drink enough and urinate regularly, you will also prevent bladder infections.

But if you do have cystitis, you can recognize it by the burning sensation when urinating, frequent trips to the toilet and abdominal pain. In cystitis, the entire wall of the urinary bladder or the bladder mucosa is inflamed. The urethra is often also affected, through which the bacteria have found their way into the bladder.

A bladder infection with mild symptoms can often be cured by drinking lots of water, placing a hot water bottle on the lower abdomen and taking painkillers. However, you should avoid alcohol, coffee or fruit juices, which could irritate the bladder. Those affected should also take a break from sex. If you have a bladder infection, it is also important to urinate regularly. If the symptoms do not disappear within three days, you should consult a gynecologist or family doctor. They can then prescribe antibiotics to treat the bladder infection.

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Sources:  NHS, NetDoktor, Video NetDoktor, gynecologists online, Minimed