Beware the agonising health hangover as the heatwave cools down, warns sexual health doctor | The Sun

WITH a heatwave searing through the UK last week, you might have taken a dip in the pool to cool down or indulged in a few extra drinks.

But it's possible you've woken up with an unpleasant souvenir from your hot weather activities – an uncomfortable urge to pee and a searing pain down below.

If that's the case, you're one to the millions to fall victim to on of summer's most common afflictions: cystitis.

This is an inflammation of the bladder and can be caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Cystitis can get super painful, causing burning pain when you pee and sending you rushing to the loo more often than usual, only for you to discover you can't pass very much urine at all.

You might also notice that your pee is dark, cloudy or strong smelling, or see traces of blood in it. And you may have a high temperature and feel tired or unwell.

Read more on UTIs

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Why is cystitis more common in hot weather?

A 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine shows that cases of painful cystitis jump between 20 and 30 per cent during hot weather.

There a are number of reasons for this, according to women’s health expert Dr Catherine Hood.

She told Sun Health: "Summer is a time when we tend to feel more relaxed and maybe drink more alcohol and eat salty snacks on picnics."

These activities – along a failure to drink more water during the hotter weather – can increase your risk of the dehydration, unbalancing your pee pH and leading to fewer harmful bacteria being flushed out from your bladder.

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Lounging in your wet bathing suit after swimming and increased sweating in your groin area can also encourage bacteria growth, according to Dr Hood, who also serves an an adviser for cystitis relief Effercitrate tablets.

And the warmer weather might also see you having a bit more fun between the sheets.

Certain sex positions could put you more at risk of painful cystitis than others.

"Sex from behind [is] especially bad for women who suffer with recurring cystitis,”  Dr Hood said.

The women's health expert had some bad news for anyone enjoying more hanky panky this summer: "Estimates show that sex-induced cystitis accounts for around 60 per cent for recurrent cases, demonstrating sex as a key trigger of cystitis for millions of women in the UK.

"As cystitis is mostly caused by bacteria from the rectum, movements during sex help move these bacteria up the urethra into the bladder."

Women tend to be more at risk of it than men, as the opening to their urethra – the tube pee leaves the body through – is located very close to the bottom, making it easier for bacteria to reach it.

Oral sex can also put you at risk of cystitis, as it transfer bacteria from a partner’s mouth.

Other factors that up your chances of getting the infection include using a diaphragm or spermicidal jelly for contraception and hormonal changes including those during pregnancy and the menopause are also risk factors.

Dr Hood said: “Though cystitis is a UTI and affects the bladder there are many subsequent, or knock-on wellbeing effects sufferers can experience, such as lethargy, tiredness, aches and pains, even affecting mood and stress and anxiety levels. Just dealing with cystitis can take its toll."

How can I treat cystitis?

If you're left with a hot weather hangover in the form of cystitis, there are a number of ways to treat it.

Dr Hood advised you address symptoms immediately with treatments such as the Effercitrate tablets that soothe bladder and urethra.

Meanwhile, the NHS suggested you:

  1. take paracetamol up to four times a day to reduce pain
  2. drink plenty of water
  3. hold a hot water bottle over your lower tummy
  4. avoid having sex
  5. avoid drinks that may irritate your bladder, like fruit juices, coffee and alcohol
  6. pee frequently

It advised you see a GP if you think you have cystitis and your symptoms haven't gone away within three days.

They may:

  • offer self-care advice and recommend taking a painkiller
  • do a urine test, although this is not always needed
  • give you a prescription for a three-day course of antibiotics
  • give you a prescription for antibiotics but suggest you wait for 48 hours before taking them, in case your symptoms go away on their own

How can I avoid getting cystitis?

Dr Hood said: “To prevent recurring cystitis infections, aim to stay well hydrated drinking two litres of fluid each day, wear cotton underwear and avoid tight fitting trousers, and always wipe your bottom from front to back when you go to the toilet."

She also advised peeing straight after sex and having glass of water.


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"Changes to your diet and lifestyle can also help prevent cystitis," the women's health expert went on.

"Don’t use perfumed products on your genital area and have showers rather than baths. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Plus limit your intake of fruit juices, alcohol and sugary drinks and foods as they can irritate the bladder.” 

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