Definition, treatment & prevention
Honeymoon cystitis is when cystitis occurs after not having sex for a period of time
Honeymoon cystitis is more common in women in their 20s and increasingly common in women in their 50s
Avoid honeymoon cystitis by staying hydrated, urinating right after sex, and keep your immune system strong
You can treat honeymoon cystitis with antibiotics which will normally clear most infections within 3 days
You can also wait 48 hours to see if the infection clears itself, although this is less reliable than antibiotics
Honeymoon cystitis (or "honeymoon disease") is cystitis caused by sexual activity. The symptoms are the same as with cystitis triggered by something other than sex: burning sensation when peeing and the frequent urge to go to the bathroom.
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About Honeymoon Cystitis
Honeymoon cystitis can occur when a woman has sex for the first time or has sex after a long time without any sexual activity. During sex, E.coli bacteria which tend to live on the skin around your anus can be transferred to your urethra (for example via your partner's fingers or penis).
How Common Is Honeymoon Cystitis ?
Half of all women get cystitis at least once in their lives. However, honeymoon cystitis only causes bladder infection in 4% of cases. Honeymoon cystitis remains more common among young women in their 20s, although single women in their 50s are increasingly reporting that they suffer from the problem. The risk of honeymoon cystitis increases if someone starts having sex again after not doing so for a long time. Condoms are not known to offer any protection against honeymoon cystitis.
Why Men Don't Get Honeymoon Cystitis
Women are much more at risk of bladder infection because their urethra is much shorter than the male urethra, making it easy for E.coli bacteria to reach the bladder. Men don't commonly get cystitis without suffering from a more serious underlying health problem.
Avoiding & Treating A Bladder Infection
You can prevent bladder infections in many ways. Drinking plenty of water (also recommended when you already have cystitis) and going to the bathroom as often as you need to reduce your risk of getting an infection. Peeing right after sex will help eliminate any bacteria that might have got into the urethra.
You should try to maintain a healthy immune system and avoid drinking too much coffee, soda and fruit juice (e.g. citrus) which can irritate your bladder. You may want to regularly drink cranberry juice, as it appears that it can protect from cystitis by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls. However, cranberry juice can't actually cure an existing bladder infection once you've got one.
Treating Honeymoon Cystitis With Antibiotics
Cystitis can be treated very easily and quickly with a course of antibiotics. If you don't want to take antibiotics right away, you may wish to wait 48 hours to see if the infection clears without medication. A short course of antibiotics will effectively treat infections in most cases.
If you suffer from recurrent bladder infections, you may be given a prescription for a low daily dose of antibiotics taken for several months to prevent future infections. The standard antibiotic treatment for cystitis lasts 3 days. You need to make sure that you complete the course of treatment as prescribed. Otherwise, the infection might return. If you are suffering from strong side-effects, ask your doctor to recommend an alternative antibiotic treatment.
Frequently asked questions
Why do I get cystitis after intercourse?
The rubbing during sex can cause bacteria from the genital area and anus to come into contact with the urethra. This can move toward the bladder and trigger cystitis. In addition, vaginal dryness during sex can lead to inflammation of the mucous membranes, making them more vulnerable to infection.
Can you have sex when you have a UTI?
Sex is not contraindicated during urinary tract infection as it’s not contagious. Treating the infection before having sex is recommended as vaginal penetration may increase the pain and worsen the symptoms.
How to prevent cystitis after intercourse?
Here are our tips to prevent cystitis after sex:
- Urinate after sexual intercourse to rinse off bacteria that have entered the urethra
- Also, remember to wipe front to back to avoid bringing intestinal bacteria to the urethra
- Drink at least 1.5L of water each day
- In case of vaginal dryness, use a water-based lubricant to avoid irritation of the mucous membranes
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is an IMC and GMC registered GP who works with our Irish team here at ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training at Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 21 Mar 2022
Cystitis bladder infections are caused by bacteria and need to be treated with antibiotics. ZAVA offers a variety of treatment through a convenient, discreet service.