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A bladder infection or cystitis is a common condition in women. Considering the feminine
urethra is much shorter than that of men, bacteria can more easily reach the bladder. Women are therefore more likely to develop cystitis.

Normally the bladder and urine are sterile, that is to say 'free of any bacteria'. When bacteria reach the bladder through the urethra and attach themselves there, a bladder infection occurs. Bacteria can enter through the following mechanisms:

- Sexual activity: in sexual intercourse, bacteria can pass through mechanical movements from the
anal or vaginal region are transferred to the urethra and end up in the bladder.
- Toilet hygiene: by wiping from back to front after defecation, bacteria in the
- Retention of urine: bacteria can reproduce in the bladder when urination is delayed for a long time and repeatedly.

The typical symptoms of a bladder infection are: frequent urination, burning when urinating, urgent urge to urinate, pain in the lower abdomen,…. The urine is also often foul-smelling and cloudy. With a simple cystitis, there is no fever, flank pain or vomiting. These symptoms are signs of a more serious inflammation of the kidneys.

The diagnosis of a bladder infection is based on the following three pillars:

1) the presence of (above) typical symptoms
2) the presence of bacteria and other signs of infection in the urine
3) the disappearance of the symptoms after the start of the antibiotic treatment

Not all bladder infections require treatment; mild forms of bladder infections can pass spontaneously without medication and with a high fluid intake. In most cases, however, a course of antibiotics is started to speed up healing and reduce symptoms. A long course of antibiotics (more than five days) is not recommended.
Only in some specific situations, long-term treatment with low-dose antibiotics may be an option to prevent frequent bladder infections. However, this should be discussed in advance with your urologist.
When there is a clear link between sexual activity and the development of a bladder infection, a single intake of antibiotics after sexual activity can prevent a bladder infection. This treatment option should also be discussed with your urologist first.

Several factors can play a positive role in the prevention of bladder infections:

Drink a lot of water: about 1.5 to 2 liters per day.
- Go to the toilet every three to four hours.
- Always wipe front to back after defecation.
Drink a glass of cranberry juice every day or take one tablet of cranberry extract per day.
- Avoid vaginal rinses in the shower.
- Avoid using highly scented personal hygiene items.

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