Most women will suffer with cystitis at some point in their lives, but it occasionally affects men and children too.
Cystitis, also known as a urinary tract infection, is a bacterial overgrowth in the bladder that causes pain, frequent urination and a burning sensation during urination. It often affects women during pregnancy and is one of the main causes of premature labour. Carmen van Zanten (naturopath and midwife) tell you what to do and not..
For some women cystitis may be a reoccurring infection, often caused by a short urethra (the tube that goes from the bladder and allows the urine to drain out). This allows the bacteria in the genital area to travel up to the bladder relatively easily, and therefore cause the infection. Wearing tight underwear and trousers, cycling, sex, use of diaphragms, spermicides and non-breathable panty liners, all increase your risk of this.
Another common reason for cystitis is due to inadequate emptying of the bladder, which can lead to more serious complications such as kidney infections. This is often related to the bladder being under ‘tension’. Pelvic floor exercises can help re-set the muscles to contract and relax adequately, and therefore allow the bladder to empty completely during urination, so that the bacteria doesn’t have the chance to develop.
So how do you prevent cystitis from happening in the first place? Well, it may depend on the reason that it is happening but here are the do’s and dont’s.
- Sugar. Maintain a low sugar diet; sugar helps bacteria grow
- Don’t wear trousers that are too tight around the groin area
- Don’t use any soaps or creams in the genital area, just use water to wash yourself. A healthy skin pH will help prevent the bacteria from growing and soaps can disrupt the pH.
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Keep well hydrated; drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day
- Change your birth control (diaphragms, spermicides and hormonal birth control often increase the risk of getting cystitis)
- Urinate after sex
- Wear breathable underwear (such as Carin Wear!)
- After using the toilet, wipe yourself from the front to the back
- Take probiotic capsules
- Eat live, natural, unsweetened yogurt
- Eat raw fermented foods such as miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, or kombucha
Remember to consult your doctor if the infection reoccurs regularly to find out the real cause of the problem and treat this accordingly. Also ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains in your diet, as well as exercise regularly. This will keep your immune system strong so that you can fight off infections easily in the first place.