How to prevent cystitis

Unfortunately for many women, cystitis can be an ever-recurring problem. 

Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, provides her five top tips to help keep it in check.

Cystitis is a Urinary Tract Infection (or UTI), caused by inflammation of the bladder which is generally caused by a bacterial infection. This leads to a burning sensation when passing urine, the urge to pass urine more frequently without actually passing very much, and pain in the lower abdomen, all of which can be really debilitating. However, as with everything, prevention is always better than cure and there are some natural ways to help reduce the risk of getting cystitis in the future.


Cranberry is the ‘go-to’ nutrient for sufferers of cystitis.  This is because it helps prevent bacteria from sticking to the wall of the urinary tract, thereby preventing infection.  It’s all down to the proanthocyanidins, naturally found in cranberries, which help to calm inflammation.  It’s important though to drink non-sweetened cranberry juice as sugar just creates a better breeding environment for bacteria.


D-Mannose is quite a recent discovery and is really effective in preventing and treating cystitis.  It’s a type of sugar related to glucose, which is found in cranberries, apples and other fruits, but it is chemically different to sugar, therefore having a completely different effect to traditional sugar on the body.  You can only buy in it supplement form and it works really well alongside cranberry; it acts in a similar way in that it prevents bacteria from adhering to the wall of the urinary tract.


We know that sugar needs to be reduced to avoid exacerbating the problem.  And that means sugar in all its forms – many cereals for example are laden with sugar, so be sure to check labels.  Tea, coffee, alcohol and most citrus fruits should be avoided as they create further irritation. One of the keys to success in preventing further outbreaks is to create more alkaline urine; the body generally prefers to be in a more alkaline state than acidic, therefore increasing intake of vegetables, in particular, can also have a really positive effect.


Among many of their claims to fame, probiotics, commonly known as ‘friendly bacteria’, help support the immune system. And a strong immune system is key to fighting bacterial infections.  If you’ve already had to use antibiotics for previous infections, your friendly bacteria will definitely be low and this is where you can get a cycle of infection, antibiotics and then reinfection occurring.  The best advice is to go to a health food store and buy some good quality probiotics.  They generally need to be refrigerated after opening.


Nylon underwear is only going to exacerbate the problem, because it tends to help create the perfect environment for bacteria to breed.  Therefore, make sure you wear cotton undies and avoid using perfumed soaps and strong perfumed washing powder, which will only irritate the sensitive skin down-under!


It may not be the sexiest thing in the world but it is very good advice to empty your bladder before you have sex and also as soon afterwards as possible. This can significantly reduce the likelihood of a cystitis attack.

So, as you can see making a few small changes to your diet and lifestyle, can have big effects.