Can cystitis be caused by stress? – Better2Know Blog

Managing your sexual health can be a full time job. With the constant worry of sexually transmitted infections and other health concerns, it’s easy to overlook the role that stress plays in our sexual well-being. One condition that is often linked to stress is cystitis.

But can stress really affect your health so much that it can cause infections like cystitis? Keep reading to find out.

Understanding Cystitis

Before we explore the relationship with stress, it’s essential to understand cystitis itself.

Cystitis primarily affects the bladder, leading to symptoms such as:

• Overactive bladder

• Burning sensations during urination

• Chronic pelvic pain

• Chronic bladder pain

In most cases, bacterial infections, particularly Escherichia coli (E. coli), are responsible for causing cystitis. However, there are instances where no bacterial infection is present, leading to a condition known as interstitial cystitis, also called painful bladder syndrome or bladder pain syndrome.

As a urinary tract infection, cystitis can affect the bladder wall, kidneys, urethra, and other areas of the urinary tract. People who suffer from interstitial cystitis are also susceptible to other conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.

Cystitis is particularly common in women. Around half of women will get cystitis at some point in their lifetime, and many women will get it more than once and may need regular long-term treatment for it. Cystitis is also more common among older men than younger men.

The risk factors for getting cystitis include:

•Frequent sex

• Changes in the structure of your vagina or vulva due to injury

• Changes in the flora of your vagina

• The presence of kidney stones

• The insertion of a catheter

• The use of vaginal diaphragms with spermicide

Cystitis can resolve on its own, but some infections will require treatment with antibiotics.

The role of stress

While bacterial infections are the primary cause of cystitis, stress can significantly impact the body’s susceptibility to this condition. Stress can trigger a host of physiological responses in the body, in particular cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can disrupt the body’s immune function, making it more vulnerable to infections.

Stress weakens the body’s ability to regulate inflammation, which plays a crucial role in the development of cystitis. Chronic stress can also cause lead to long-term low-grade inflammation throughout the body, including the urinary tract, making it more prone to inflammation and infection.

Furthermore, chronic stress exposure can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction, a condition characterized by the dysfunction of the muscles of the pelvic floor. This tension can impede normal bladder function, leading to symptoms resembling those of cystitis.

A study out of Northwestern University found that life stress is associated with greater interstitial cystitis symptoms. Several more studies have found positive correlations between lower urinary tract symptoms and chronic psychological stress commonly experienced in people with anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Managing stress to prevent cystitis

Given the significant impact of stress on cystitis, managing stress effectively is crucial for both preventing and managing this condition. Here’s how you can reduce stress to avoid getting cystitis:

• Use meditation and deep breathing techniques to calm anxiety.

• Exercise regularly

• Make time for things you enjoy, like spending time with friends and family or engaging in hobbies.

• Seek support from a therapist or counselor if you’re struggling to cope with stress effectively.

• Eat a well-balanced diet, get adequate sleep, and hydrate regularly.

Get tested at home

Urinary tract infections can be a pain. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of a UTI, you can use Better2Know’s Urine for Microscopy and Culture Home Test to identify the presence of yeast or harmful bacteria in your urine.

Your discreetly packaged home testing kit will include a container for urine collection, a pathology form, and a postage-paid return envelope. We will also email you a detailed leaflet offering clear instructions on how to collect your sample. Once you have taken your sample, pop it into the prepaid envelope and send it to our laboratory for analysis. Results will be ready two days after the laboratory receives your sample.

If you’re concerned about your symptoms and would like to talk to someone about them, call the number at the top of this page to speak to one of Better2Know’s expert Sexual Health Advisors.

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