The Causes of Cystitis After Having Sex

Getting cystitis after having sex is common among women. Many things can cause it but you can prevent it. Today's article contains some recommendations to do so.
The Causes of Cystitis After Having Sex
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Have you ever wondered why women get cystitis after having sex? Should you be concerned about it? Continue reading to find out more about this subject, perhaps you’ll find the answers to these and more questions.

This is a common condition among women, especially bacterial cystitis. This type is caused by a bacterial infection. According to health studies, 60% of women will suffer from it at least once in their lives. Within that group, up to 80% of cases are cases of cystitis after having sex.

What is cystitis?

Strictly speaking, it involves inflammation of the urinary bladder, no matter the cause. Most people believe that it’s the same as a urinary tract infection. However, it isn’t. Cystitis includes inflammation. However, a urinary tract infection involves the participation of a microorganism, most commonly bacteria.

Thus, we can classify this condition into two groups:

  • Bacterial cystitis
  • Noninfectious cystitis

Bacterial cystitis is caused by a microorganism, in most cases a bacterium (most commonly Escherichia coli). In these cases, the microorganism enters the urinary tract through the urethra. Then, it multiplies, forming bacterial colonies. This causes the symptoms of the condition.

Some E-coli bacteria.
Overall, most cases of cystitis are caused by excessive proliferation of bacteria such as E. coli. However, this condition can also manifest due to non-infectious causes.

Here are some of the causes of noninfectious cystitis:

  • Foreign bodies: a urinary catheter or a catheter inserted into the urethra for a long period of time may lead to this condition
  • Drugs: in addition, bladder inflammation is a side effect of some chemotherapy medications
  • Chemicals: plus, certain substances in feminine hygiene products, such as feminine hygiene sprays or spermicidal jellies, can cause irritation
  • Radiation: radiation therapy in women being treated for cancer may lead to it
  • Interstitial cystitis: this is a chronic bladder inflammation without a clear cause. Naturally, that’s why it’s so difficult to treat.
  • Other conditions: finally, certain diseases such as spinal cord conditions that cause “neurogenic bladder”

Cystitis after having sex

It’s scientifically proven that sex is a risk factor for cystitis in women. According to one study, women who have sex more than four times a month, use contraceptives, and have had sex in the last thirty days are more likely to develop cystitis.

Therefore, there’s a specific expression for this urinary tract infection linked to sex: postcoital cystitis. Also, the study identified at least five reasons why having sex can lead to urinary infections in women.

Oral contraceptives

These modify women’s menstrual cycle. They also modify hormones’ natural actions on the female body. Oral contraceptives weaken the lining of the urinary bladder – that is, the innermost part of the organ. This facilitates the colonization of bacteria such as Escherichia coli.

A woman taking oral contraceptives.
Women who take oral contraceptives are at a higher risk of getting cystitis, as these drugs weaken the mucous membrane that protects the bladder.


The materials condoms are made of may also affect the mucosa of women’s urinary tract. This makes it more vulnerable to infections and facilitating the proliferation of bacteria. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that not all bodies react the same way to these materials.

The entry of bacteria

Sex favors the colonization of bacteria from the external environment into women’s urinary tract. In addition, the male penis may act as a carrier or the movements involved in the sexual act may lead to cystitis.

After-sex hygiene habits

One of the factors most linked to this problem and sex is women’s hygiene after sex. When women don’t urinate immediately after intercourse, the bacteria that entered are more likely to remain in the bladder and multiply.

Urethral trauma

Sex represents trauma to a woman’s urethra, which is very close to the vagina. The repetitive movements involved in the sexual act weaken women’s urinary tract, favoring the entry of external bacteria.

Prevention of post-coital cystitis

As you can see, developing cystitis after sex is likely in women but it doesn’t mean you should abstain from it. Thus, it’s not necessary for you to stop having sex altogether out of fear of a urinary tract infection. This is because you can significantly reduce your chances of it if you’re careful.

A woman drinking water.
As in any diet, hydration is essential. Therefore, you should drink plenty of water and healthy drinks such as tea.

The best tip to prevent cystitis after sex is to empty your bladder immediately after intercourse. This simple act transports the bacteria that might have entered the urethra and bladder.

Overall, it prevents bacterial colonization inside the urinary system. If possible, also empty your bladder before sex, as this also boosts the body’s defenses.

This simple tip should go hand in hand with proper hydration. Drinking the right amount of water stimulates urine production and facilitates urination during the day. This way, you prevent urine retention, which also favors cystitis.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.