Did you know that every woman will experience honeymoon cystitis at some point in their lives? According to research studies, 1 in 2 women have experienced honeymoon cystitis. Apparently, it is that common. So, if you are new to this and are about to go on your honeymoon, there is nothing scary here. This condition is easy to deal with.
If you haven’t heard about it and haven’t had a clue about it even existing, this article will help you understand what is honeymoon cystitis, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Honeymoon Cystitis: A Urinary Tract Infection You Might Experience
The honeymoon phase in every romantic relationship includes frequent lovemaking. Be it when you just get married, when you meet your partner after so long, when you get back into physical intimacy after your first delivery, or when you rekindle your sex life after a period of abstinence. What’s common in these situations is having lots of sex and wherein honeymoon cystitis comes into the picture.
Honeymoon cystitis is a cutesy name for cystitis formed after having sex. Generally speaking, the honeymoon is when couples have lots of sex; hence the euphemistically named condition! That is not to say it only happens during the honeymoon. It can happen at any time throughout a woman’s life. Also, despite the indication of its name, unmarried women —anyone with a vagina— can experience honeymoon cystitis. If they have sex, that is.
Medical Aspect Of Honeymoon Cystitis
Let’s get into the medical aspect of it all. Cystitis is a medical term for inflammation of the bladder. In most cases, the cause of cystitis is a bacterial infection called urinary tract infection (UTI). It is an infection in the urinary system which affects the urethra, bladder (both of which are normally microbe-free), or kidneys.
Although it’s not a cause of concern, it can be painful, (annoying to say the least), and can lead to ongoing discomfort. Also, only 4% of UTI cases led to a bladder infection. But it can lead to serious complications if the infection spreads to the kidneys. So, it is always better to treat honeymoon cystitis.
UTI is a fairly common infection that affects both sexes and all ages, but especially women(1) in their early 20s and 50s. Here, as a woman, you can blame the shorter urethras all you want! Despite how unfair that sounds, according to the National Kidney Foundation(2), one in five women will get UTI at least once in their life.
Though all of this may sound a bit scary (especially to those who are packing your bags for your honeymoon), honeymoon cystitis does not come with scary news. It resolves itself within a few days, in most cases at least. If not, it is quite easy to deal with. Now that you know what is honeymoon cystitis, let’s see the causes of it. Why does it happen and why is it more common in women?
What Causes Honeymoon Cystitis?
Honeymoon cystitis is commonly caused by sex (3). But it’s not a sexually transmitted disease nor is it contagious. Clear? Assuming that’s out of the way, let’s get into the details.
There are different causes for honeymoon cystitis, but the most common cause is coital activity. This is not to say that your partner is pushing some kind of bacteria in your vagina either.
The simple statement that explains the condition is bacteria in the wrong place. Bacteria are living near the vagina and anus and it is quite normal. And most of these bacteria form part of the healthy intestinal flora. However, once they enter the sterile, microbe-free space in the urethra and bladder, they can cause honeymoon cystitis. So basically it happens when bacteria that shouldn’t be up there get there.
Unfortunately, bacteria can move up or can be pushed mechanically up the urethra and into the bladder during sexual contact. E.coli bacteria that live on the skin around your anus gets dragged towards your vagina (via your partner’s penis or fingers) and urethra. Then, find their way through the urethra’s tube passageway to your bladder. This causes infection. In other words, bacteria fasten to the lining of your bladder and cause the area to become inflamed and irritated.
How can bacteria get into your urethra?
Now you understand why penetrative sex can easily cause UTI. And condoms offer no known protection against or prevention from UTI. It is also important to point out the fact that it is easy for bacteria to get transferred as the anus and urethra are closer in proximity. Considering the short distance, we are lucky we don’t get infected more frequently.
Now, to answer the question of why it is more common in women: it comes down to female anatomy. When compared, the female urethra is shorter —(1.5 inches) and the male urethra —(7 to 8 inches) is much, much longer. So, once the bacteria get inside the female urethra, they can travel up to the bladder in a shorter distance. On the other hand, the bacteria don’t often make the trip to the male urethra especially if they flush them out right after sex.
Other Causes of Honeymoon Cystitis:
Sex is not always the cause of cystitis. And some women are more susceptible to it than others. For instance, after a bowel movement, if you continually wipe from back to front instead of front to back, bacteria can transfer and cause infection. You may be at greater risk if your vagina is dry or irritated —this can happen when you have frequent prolonged sex or in response to hormonal changes.
Hormonal changes may include after menopause or around the time of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Aside from these, other causes may include the use of a diaphragm with spermicides for birth control, full bladder, tampon use, radiotherapy, a blockage that prevents the flow of urine, other kidney or bladder problems.
Why Is It More Common In Women In Their 20s and 50s?
Honeymoon cystitis tends to develop when you have sex for the first time. Women in their early 20s have sex for the first time and, also, more often. In addition, older women getting back into their sexual life (say, after divorce) are more likely to develop UTIs. Older women hitting menopause can also develop UTIs. Because menopause can cause thinning and drying of the mucous membrane lining the urethra and vagina. This makes them more susceptible.
Symptoms Of Honeymoon Cystitis
It may be possible that you are not at all familiar with honeymoon cystitis, but you may be familiar with its symptoms. You will know something is wrong. Signs and symptoms of honeymoon cystitis often include the following:
- Strong and persistent need to empty the bladder
- Dysuria: a burning sensation when urinating
- Haematuria: traces of blood in the urine
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Dark, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic discomfort
- A feeling of pressure above the pubic bone, in the lower abdomen or back
- Mild fever and chills —may be a sign of kidney infection
- Feeling weak or shaky
- Painful intercourse
What Are The Treatment Options For Honeymoon Cystitis?
Now that you know the all too familiar symptoms of honeymoon cystitis, let’s move to the next important question. What can you do if you suffer from honeymoon cystitis?
In most cases, it resolves on its own after a few days. But if it doesn’t resolve within a week, you have to consult your doctor. But first, prior to any treatment, your doctor must perform a urinalysis to confirm that you have honeymoon cystitis. Because some people have interstitial cystitis that has the same symptoms as UTI.
After confirming, your doctor will prescribe a 3-7-10 day course of antibiotics to treat honeymoon cystitis. Antibiotics commonly used for this condition are:
Depending on the patient, the doctor will prescribe accordingly. For instance, anyone with a weakened immune system or those who are older has a higher risk of the infection spreading to the kidney. So, the doctor has to treat it carefully, especially pregnant women.
Normally, taking antibiotics eases the symptoms within a day. They generally react positively and quickly. But if they don’t, even after taking the antibiotics, you should go to your doctor again. If you do suffer from strong side effects, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor for an alternative antibiotic treatment. A short-term pain reliever may be prescribed in some rare (painful) cases.
Plus, you need to make sure that you complete the course of treatment just as prescribed by the doctor. Otherwise, the infection might come again. While you wait for it to work, you can use a heating pad to soothe and minimize the feelings of bladder pressure or pain.
Preventing Honeymoon Cystitis In The First Place
Prevention is always better than cure. In this case, too, you can prevent honeymoon cystitis in many ways. Some of the preventive steps listed below are considered natural treatments of honeymoon cystitis. If you are not prone to frequent UTIs, taking the following preventive steps will definitely help you:
- Drink plenty of water (6 glasses), which is also recommended when you already have cystitis. Hydrating sufficiently is extremely important. This way, you can also keep the urine from becoming concentrated.
- Empty your bladder before and after having intercourse to prevent the chances of honeymoon cystitis. One of the most effective ways of preventing is urinating after sex. By urinating, you can actually rinse bacteria from the urethra and it will clear from the bladder. If you need to drink water to urinate, do that. Some women cannot urinate immediately after sex because the muscles won’t relax. In that case, urine will remain in the bladder, increasing the risk of infection.
- Do not hold your urine when you feel like urinating. If you do, you encourage the bad bacteria to adhere to the bladder walls and multiply, especially if you already have UTI.
- Drink cranberry juice regularly as it is believed to protect from cystitis by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls. Although evidence is not strong, the increased liquid can still be helpful. And, it cannot cure an existing UTI once you have got one.
- After a bowel movement, always wipe from front to backwashing in the order: urethra, vagina, and anus. This prevents bacteria from the anus from entering the urethra.
- Use a lubricant during sex to avoid vaginal dryness.
- Try different sex positions and practice good hygiene after sex.
- Try to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, too much coffee, soda, and fruit juice (like citrus) to avoid irritating your bladder.
- Avoid using any deodorant vaginal spray or other feminine products with fragrance as they can irritate the urethra. Replace them with water-based products.
- Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight underwear.
- If you are using a diaphragm or spermicide, switch to alternative contraception.
Frequently Asked Questions
In most cases, honeymoon cystitis lasts for a few days and they do resolve on their own.
Usually, people assume you can transmit honeymoon cystitis to your partner. Since the bacteria are found in a woman’s urinary tract, it is less likely to get passed to your partner. However, if an STI or thrush is on the table, honeymoon cystitis can get transmitted between partners during sex. So, it is important to keep an eye on your symptoms.
Well, sex is not contraindicated during honeymoon cystitis because it’s not contagious. But any doctor would advise you to abstain from sex until the infection resolves. Because vaginal penetration may be extremely painful with UTI.