What is cystitis?

Cystitis is a type of UTI where the bladder becomes inflamed or irritated causing pain and discomfort.

What causes cystitis?

Cystitis is a bacterial infection most commonly caused by Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) bacteria. E. coli is usually found in your digestive system and doesn’t normally cause problems, but it can easily be transferred to your urinary tract. Cystitis is the most common lower urinary tract infection (UTI), which causes the bladder lining to become raw and inflamed.

While bacterial infections are the most common cause of cystitis, some non-infectious factors may also cause bladder inflammation such as:

  • chronic bladder inflammation, also called interstitial cystitis
  • hypersensitivity to chemicals such as bubble bath or certain feminine hygiene products including spermicidal jellies
  • certain medications, particularly some chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment of the pelvic area
  • long term catheter use

Who gets cystitis?

Anyone can get cystitis. UTIs such as cystitis are a very common problem – 1 in 2 women and 1 in 20 men will have a UTI at some point in their life. Women are more commonly affected because their urethra is shorter, allowing bacteria to reach the bladder more easily. Those most at risk include women who are sexually active or who have a family history of repeated UTIs or had their first UTI before 15 years of age. Also, women who are pregnant, menopausal or use contraceptive diaphragms and spermicide gels are also at risk.

The elderly, people with diabetes, men with prostate problems and people using urinary catheters may also be prone to UTIs.

What’s the difference between cystitis and a UTI?

An infection in any part of the urinary system is a urinary tract infection (UTI). The urinary system includes two kidneys, two ureters, one bladder and one urethra. If the infection occurs in the bladder it is known as cystitis, which is the most commonly seen UTI. If the infection occurs in the kidneys it is called pyelonephritis and in the urethra it is known as urethritis.

Note: not all cases of cystitis are UTIs, occasionally there are other non-infectious reasons why the bladder might become irritated.

A full-body shot of a woman

Getting to know cystitis symptoms

A few self-care tips on prevention


Frequently asked questions about cystitis