Honeymoon cystitis – are you at risk?

Is cystitis more common after sex?

10 (1 reviews) Rate this page



Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


11 June 2018

What exactly is honeymoon cystitis?

Honeymoon cystitis – what exactly does this involve? Is cystitis more likely to crop up whilst you’re on holiday, getting intimate with a partner, or both? Although honeymoon cystitis may be more common whilst on holiday as you often have a lot more alone time together, honeymoon cystitis basically refers to cystitis that can crop up as a result of having sex. 

This is a fairly common phenomenon in women, although don’t fret; there are lots of top tips to help prevent this as I’ll go on to discuss. 

What’s the real cause?

Of course, sex doesn’t always cause cystitis and this certainly shouldn’t put you off. But it may be the case that having sex can make cystitis more likely in some cases. Let me explain why:

Bacteria can get in the wrong places. We know that bad bacteria is the primary cause of cystitis in most cases and unfortunately, sex can just make the transfer of bacteria into your urethra and urinary tract more likely.

Damage is more likely. Especially if dryness is an issue for you, having sex (especially more than normal) can risk damaging the delicate lining of the urinary tract and surrounding areas, which can make infections more likely to settle in. 

Your frequency has changed. You may be more likely to experience honeymoon cystitis if you’ve recently become more sexually active, perhaps after meeting someone new, or spending more time than normal with a partner.

Can honeymoon cystitis be passed between partners?

Women are unfortunately much more likely to be affected by cystitis. This is generally due to simple anatomy as areas down below are arranged much closer together when compared to men, so the transfer of bacteria into the urethra is more likely. However, men aren’t completely off the hook and they can also experience cystitis in some cases too.

However, if you already have cystitis or a urinary tract infection is it safe to get intimate with your partner or are you putting them at risk? Well, as the bacteria to blame are found within a women’s urinary tract, the transfer during intimate relations is less likely.

However, if something else is at play, such as thrush or an STI which more often than not affect the vagina rather than the urinary tract, then these types of infections are often more likely to be passed between partners during sex. Therefore, always be sure to keep an eye on your symptoms and pay a visit to your doctor if you are in any doubt as to what might be going on.

Is this more common during menopause?

The name ‘honeymoon cystitis’ suggests that the condition may be more common in younger lovers still in the honeymoon phase, but actually, as we now know that honeymoon cystitis really means cystitis that is more common after sex, this of course means it can affect sexually active people of all ages, whether on their honeymoon or not!

As we get older, fluctuating hormones, namely oestrogen, can contribute to structural changes of the vagina, bladder and urinary tract.  As a result of this, prolapses, thinning walls or dryness can often crop up, all of which can make infections more likely.

What precautions can I take?

If you’ve experienced honeymoon cystitis before, or the thought of it alone is enough for you to take precautions, then here are some top tips from me to help prevent it:

Stick to your normal hygiene practices

People often believe that they are unclean or worry about hygiene practices if they’ve suffered from cystitis, but contrary to popular relief, ramping up the hygiene practices could in fact be detrimental! Using harsh soaps or chemicals found in body washes will only risk further upsetting the pH or the delicate balance of bacteria found down below. Switch to gentler, more natural alternatives found in your local health food store instead.

Keep hydrated

Keeping properly hydrated will help to keep the tissues lining your urinary tract lubricated and will allow more diluted urine to flush through your system as well, hopefully taking any nasties away with it! I recommend at least 1.5l of plain, still water daily and try to avoid fizzy drinks, caffeinated varieties or sickly sweet options which will only cause further irritation.

Go to the loo

Going to the loo before and after sex can help to keep things moving throughout your bladder and urinary tract and with any luck will help to prevent any bad bacteria getting stuck where it shouldn’t.

Prepare in the bedroom

Dryness can not only cause discomfort during sex, but it can also make infections more likely, therefore, it helps to be prepared. Taking supplements internally such as Sea Buckthorn Oil can be useful (for dryness down below as well as elsewhere), and products can also be applied topically in the bedroom to help with lubrication.

What about treatment if I’m affected?

If you suspect you’ve been affected by honeymoon cystitis and want to get things back under control, here’s what to do:

1- Decipher your diet

As we know, diet can have a big influence when it comes to cystitis. If you’re currently suffering, then avoiding refined sugars (such as those found in sweet treats and white varieties of carbohydrates such as bread or pasta), caffeine and alcohol is a good place to start. Avoid processed foods which may have hidden sugars in them and stock up on fresh foods instead

2- Up the Uva-Ursi 

To help get your symptoms under control initially, try Uva-ursi and Echinacea Complex. This is a traditional herbal remedy to help relieve minor urinary complaints associated with cystitis. Take this up to 5 times daily in a small splash of water 

3- Pop some probiotics

For longer-term protection against infections down below, female probiotics such as Optibac Probiotics for Women can help to keep the balance of bacteria in check.

Uva-ursi and Echinacea – for cystitis

50ml

£ 10.50

Buy now

Fresh extracts of uva-ursi and echinacea to help maintain bladder health and comfort.
More info

Biotta Wild Mountain Cranberry Juice

500ml

£ 5.99

Buy now

A combination of the fresh juice of organic cranberries together with birch and agave nectar.
More info

Our expert's top picks for a healthy bladder and dietary advice

1

£ 36.48

Key products for bladder health and cystitis management: Uva-ursi and Echinacea Complex, Cranberry …
More info

What's being asked

Will changing my diet help with cystitis?

There are many helpful things you can do diet-wise to reduce the likelihood of cystitis. • Drink ...
Read more >

Is cystitis infectious?

No, it’s a bacterial infection that cannot be caught and cannot spread to another person. It may ...
Read more >

How is cystitis diagnosed?

A urine sample is given to the doctor, who sends it for testing. A urinary tract infection is ...
Read more >

Can cystitis and thrush be linked?

If you suffer from both recurring thrush and cystitis, or find that when you develop one, the other follows soon after, you’ll know how frustrating it can be.

Find out what the link is

Here’s what I recommend

Emma our women's health advisor recommends Uva-ursi complex to help ease symptoms of cystitis and cranberry to maintain bladder health.

Learn more

Did you know?

Cystitis is sometimes known as ‘honeymoon cystitis’. Why? Well, during sex, bacteria can spread from the perineum to the urethral opening. The risk of developing cystitis is therefore increased depending on the frequency you have intercourse (sorry honeymooners!).

7 reasons you keep getting cystitis

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

Hayfever? Check the pollen count in your area.