What is a UTI?
UTI is short for Urinary Tract Infection, also known as cystitis. UTIs are caused by bacteria, normally from your poo, travelling up your urethra and reaching your urinary tract. It can also be caused by normally harmless bacteria living on your skin getting into your urinary tract. This may happen when you wipe after you use the toilet, or when you are having sex.
The urinary tract is your body's system for making urine and then getting rid of it from your body. It includes your two kidneys, bladder and urethra. Your kidneys filter your blood to make urine, which is stored in the bladder until you need to urinate. When you urinate, the urine travels down your urethra and exits your body: your urethra is the tube that carries the urine out of your body. A UTI can affect any part of your urinary tract, depending on how far up the bacteria has travelled. If your bladder becomes infected it is known as cystitis; if your urethra is infected you have urethritis; if your kidneys become infected, it is known as a kidney infection or pyelonephritis.
Can men get cystitis?
Both men and women can get UTIs, but UTIs are more common in women because of the way the bacteria enters the urinary tract. Women have shorter urethras than men, so the bacteria has to travel less distance to the urinary tract to cause an infection. This makes women more prone to UTIs than men.
Is cystitis a sexually transmitted infection?
Cystitis is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), although it can be caused by having an STI. However, much like an STI, you can pass on the bacteria that causes UTIs to your partner when you are having sex. You do not need to tell your previous sexual partners if you do have a UTI, but you should avoid sex until your treatment has ended. This is because having sex with a UTI can cause you pain and discomfort.
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