Preventing cystitis

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There is no sure-fire way to prevent cystitis. But it can be worth paying closer attention to certain things in everyday life. Medications that prevent cystitis need to be taken for a long time and usually have side effects. Other medicines are ineffective or haven't been studied enough.

Even though cystitis usually doesn't cause any major problems, the symptoms can be very unpleasant. Some women are also embarrassed to have cystitis. If they keep getting it, they may be reluctant to do fun activities like swimming or to have sex. Because of this, many women would like to do everything possible to prevent cystitis.

How can you prevent cystitis in everyday life?

Various things are said to help prevent cystitis. Because more enter the urethra (the tube leading to the bladder) during sexual intercourse, women are often advised to pee afterwards in order to flush the bacteria out of the urethra. The type of contraception you use plays a role too: Sperm-killing agents (spermicides) and diaphragms can increase the risk of cystitis. So it may be worth trying out other methods of contraception, like condoms.

Maintaining good genital hygiene is also commonly recommended – washing with warm water is enough. Special female intimate hygiene products aren't needed. It is important to try to prevent intestinal from entering the vagina and urethra. For example, women are advised to always wipe from front to back after going to the toilet.

Other common tips include drinking a lot of fluids and keeping your feet and lower belly warm. Sometimes women are also advised to do things to generally strengthen their immune system, like getting enough sleep and avoiding stress.

Although these tips seem sensible and can be incorporated into an everyday routine, there is no scientific that they work.

Do cranberry products or other herbal products help?

Cranberry products are sometimes recommended for the prevention of cystitis. They are available in pharmacies and drugstores in the form of capsules, tablets, powder, tea and juices. Studies have shown that women who take a cranberry product are somewhat less likely to develop uncomplicated cystitis: The number of women who had cystitis at least once within three months was

  • about 8 out of 100 if they took a placebo, and
  • about 5 out of 100 if they took a cranberry product.

But these cranberry products only work for as long as you take them. Hardly any side effects were recorded in the studies. A few women said they had digestive problems like flatulence or diarrhea, though.

There are also other herbal products for the prevention of cystitis. But none of them have any clearly proven advantages.

Can you take antibiotics to prevent cystitis?

Women who keep getting cystitis can take at a low dose to prevent it. But the need to be taken over long periods of time – often for 3 to 6 months.

Women then have cystitis less often, but they frequently have side effects like stomach and bowel trouble, rashes and vaginal yeast infections (thrush). A lot of women stop taking the after a while because of these side effects. Using antibiotics too often also increases the risk of becoming resistant to the , which means that these drugs then no longer work.

When are hormones used?

After menopause, women’s bodies produce less of the female sex hormone estrogen. In some women, this makes the membranes lining the vagina thinner and drier. That makes it easier for to grow there, so cystitis is more likely. To try to prevent that from happening, estrogen products can be inserted into the vagina. They are available in the form of vaginal suppositories, cream or tablets.

Topical (locally applied) estrogen products can reduce the number of cystitis recurrences in some women. But they can have side effects, like vaginal itching and burning. Also, not much is known about the effects of using estrogen products for longer periods of time (longer than eight months).

Taking estrogen tablets orally, on the other hand, doesn't prevent cystitis. The tablets may also lead to side effects after a few months, such as breast tenderness, light vaginal bleeding and rashes.

What about vaccines or other treatments?

A vaccine against cystitis (StroVac) has been on the market in Germany since 2004. The vaccine has several inactive strains of in it. According to the manufacturer, it helps the body to fight that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) like cystitis.

Good to know

It is not clear whether it makes sense to use the UTI vaccine. German statutory health insurers don't cover the costs.

It is also not clear whether taking capsules that contain an extract of dead Escherichia coli has any advantages. Like the vaccine, these capsules are supposed to help the body respond to the faster and more effectively. But there have been too few people in the studies so far, so the results are not conclusive. Statutory health insurers in Germany generally don’t cover the costs of these capsules.

Probiotics are sometimes said to have a preventive effect too. They are available in the form of suppositories, syrups or tablets. But none of these products have been scientifically proven to help in cystitis.

Albert X, Huertas I, Pereiro I et al. Antibiotics for preventing recurrent urinary tract infection in non-pregnant women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004; (3): CD001209.

Beerepoot MA, Geerlings SE, van Haarst EP et al. Nonantibiotic prophylaxis for recurrent urinary tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Urol 2013; 190(6): 1981-1989.

Benseler A, Anglim B, Zhao ZY et al. Antibiotic prophylaxis for urodynamic testing in women: a systematic review. Int Urogynecol J 2021; 32(1): 27-38.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Allgemeinmedizin und Familienmedizin (DEGAM). Brennen beim Wasserlassen. S3-Leitlinie und Anwenderversion der S3-Leitlinie Harnwegsinfektionen. AWMF-Registernr.: 053-001. 2018.

Institut für Qualität und Wirtschaftlichkeit im Gesundheitswesen (IQWiG). Blasenentzündung: Helfen pflanzliche Mittel bei wiederkehrender Blasenentzündung? Health Technology Assessment im Auftrag des IQWiG; HTA-Bericht. 2022.

Jent P, Berger J, Kuhn A et al. Antibiotics for Preventing Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Open Forum Infect Dis 2022; 9(7): ofac327.

Ng QX, Peters C, Venkatanarayanan N et al. Use of Lactobacillus spp. to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in females. Med Hypotheses 2018; 114: 49-54.

Perrotta C, Aznar M, Mejia R et al. Oestrogens for preventing recurrent urinary tract infection in postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008; (2): CD005131.

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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Updated on February 27, 2023

Next planned update: 2026


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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