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What are the Common Causes of a Recurrent Bladder Infection?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2018
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A recurrent bladder infection, or cystitis, is defined as more than one bladder infection within a one-year period. The most common cause of this is that the bladder is re-exposed to infectious bacteria, and there is a variety of behaviors or factors that seem to predispose especially women to recurrence. In men, the condition is relatively uncommon, though certain medical conditions may cause more than one bladder infection per year.

According to medical studies, the number one cause of recurrent bladder infection in women is frequency of sexual activity. Other factors like using spermicide and contraceptive devices like the diaphragm may increase risk. There have been studies done that indicate that newly married or partnered females may be at more risk for recurrent bladder infection, simply due to an increase in sexual activity. This has even been called “honeymoon cystitis,” because it is so often noted in the medical literature. It is certainly not restricted to newlywed females, and any female who has a new sexual partner in the last twelve months and is suffering from recurrent cystitis might have recurrence explained to her as likely caused by sexual activity with a new partner.

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There are some things that may help prevent or decrease recurrent bladder infection. Voiding urine directly after intercourse is usually recommended. Avoiding other possible risk factors for cystitis like using scented feminine products or douches may also help. Doctors also need to determine that initial treatment for the infection worked and that new symptoms are not simply a continuation of the same infection. Generally, if new symptoms appear within two weeks of an initial diagnosis, they are thought to be continuation and not recurrence, and a stronger antibiotic could be warranted.

Not every case of recurrent bladder infection is due to sexual activity, douches or otherwise. Other common causes include genetic history, as it appears that people are more likely to get repeated episodes of cystitis if they have first-degree family members who also get bladder infections frequently. Occasionally, shape of the pelvic or urinary structures also predisposes people toward infection. Another time when recurrent bladder infection tends to become more common is during perimenopause and menopause. Lastly, people may suffer these infections frequently, if they have bladder or kidney stones.

For men, the causes of recurrent bladder infection are not as diverse. Enlargement of the prostate gland can impair some of its bacteriological function and make older men more likely to have multiple cases of cystitis. Additionally, men may have structural anomalies of the urinary tract that make bladder infections more likely. Kidney and bladder stones are other common causes. Frequent urinary catheterization is also linked to bladder infections in women and men.

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