Bikini? Check. Strappy sandals? Check. Something scandalous and revealing to slip into later? Check. With all the things to remember to pack for your honeymoon, it’s easy for the lurking risk of a urinary tract infection to slip your mind. What does it mean to have “honeymoon cystitis”, and how do you avoid it?
What is “honeymoon cystitis”?
Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder, or a bladder infection, which is a type of UTI. The “honeymoon” part is added as a cutesy euphemism for the fact that you’re having lots of sex with your partner from either being on your honeymoon, or in the “honeymoon stage” of your relationship. Honeymoon cystitis can happen when you have sex after a long period of time. Don’t worry-- your partner isn’t giving you some new strain of bacteria, the act of intercourse is pushing bacteria that normally colonize your vagina, perineum and anus, up into your urethra. It also doesn’t help that our clitoris is located just above the opening to the urethra :( .
How common is it?
According to the National Kidney Foundation, about one in every five women will get at least one UTI in their lifetime. Another reason why cystitis is so common for people with vaginas is because the urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder, outside of your body) is shorter than those of people who have penises. Once bacteria from fecal matter or bacteria from your vagina are introduced to your urethra, it’s easier for bacteria to travel up to the bladder without being flushed out first.
It is important to note that not all bladder infections are caused by sex, but having sex does increase the risk of UTIs. Gynecologist Dr. Judith Reichman points out in her Today health column, “ we now think it [cystitis] has more to do with components in the bladder lining which increase the ability of bacteria to adhere and multiply. There may be a genetic propensity for this condition.” So even if your urinary habits deserve an A+, you may have your ancestors to blame for your recurrent bladder infections.
How to prevent cystitis
While the term “honeymoon cystitis” sounds pretty daunting, especially for someone getting ready to go on their once in a lifetime honeymoon, there are preventative measures you can take to make sure you are UTI-free for your big trip:
- Empty your bladder before and after you have sex. This is an effective mode of prevention because voiding actually flushes bacteria that may have travelled up your urethra during sex. If you cannot urinate right away, drink a glass of water right after sex to ensure you flush out your urethra in a timely matter.
- Drink plenty of water and fluids to stay hydrated.
- Steer clear of barrier contraceptives like diaphragms as birth control, which can increase your risk of getting an infection.
- Avoid using feminine sprays, douches and spermicidal lube. Use mild, unscented soap to wash your vulvar region instead.
- Wipe front to back to keep fecal matter away from your urethra.
- Pee when your bladder is full: don’t hold it in. Bacteria multiplies the longer urine is held in your bladder.
- If you switch to vaginal intercourse directly after anal sex, this directly introduces fecal bacteria to your vagina and urethra. Always change the condom or make sure you and your partner wash the area with mild soap and water before mixing it up.
- Drink Uqora before and after sex to reduce the chance of getting an infection.
If you need peace of mind before you say bon voyage with your boo, or if you have recurrent cystitis despite your preventative efforts, you may need to call in for reinforcement. Uqora is a safe and effective option to ensure the only thing getting in the way of sex on your honeymoon is eating or sleeping.