What causes recurrent bouts?
Recurrent cystitis can be defined as two infections within six months, or three infections in a year. Common causes of recurrent bouts include:
A weakened immune system, as your body’s defences are less able to fight off bacterial infections. Some people have a reduced immune system, either caused by a condition, such as HIV, or by medication, such as chemotherapy drugs. Your immune system may also be weakened if you are already ill with something like a cold.
Changes to the mucus around the vagina and opening of the urethra. This mucus is slightly acidic, which helps to prevent bacteria from multiplying. Changes to the mucus pH balance can make you more susceptible to infections. Post-menopausal women are particularly sensitive to this because the associated drop in oestrogen hormone levels can alter the environment around your urethra, including the mucus.
Sexual intercourse - Some women find that they suffer from cystitis shortly after having sex, as bacteria may be pushed into the urethra, causing an infection.
Allergic reactions - An oversensitivity to some products, such as soaps, lubricants or spermicidal jellies can cause an allergic-type reaction and inflammation in the bladder.
Pregnancy - Having the pressure of a baby pushing down makes it harder to fully empty your bladder when you pee. This can allow urine to stagnate and get infected.
Interstitial cystitis - Some people suffer from an ongoing bladder infection called interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome. The cause is often unknown (it is not caused by a bacterial infection) and it is difficult to treat. Interstitial cystitis mostly affects women in their thirties and forties.