Cystitis means inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by a urinary tract infection. It may not cause any symptoms at all, or it may cause pain or burning when you pass urine, or a need to pass urine more frequently than normal.

  • In young men, true cystitis is uncommon. It may mean that the urinary system has some abnormality that is allowing germs (bacteria) to take hold. The abnormality could be a pocket-shaped pouch sticking out from the wall of the bladder, or a stone in the bladder.
  • Young men sometimes think they have cystitis if urinating is painful, but the cause is more likely to be inflammation of the urethra (the tube that runs from the bladder, along the penis to the pee hole). Inflammation of the urethra is called urethritis. It is often caused by a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea.
  • Older men (in their 50s and older) are more likely to get cystitis than younger men. This is because the prostate gland often starts to enlarge in middle age. An enlarged prostate stops the bladder emptying efficiently, and bacteria can breed in the stagnant urine in the bladder.

What You Can Do

  • If you have pain passing urine, the best plan is to go to a genitourinary medicine clinic (urologist), because they can do all the necessary tests very easily. They will check for sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea that can inflame the urethra and will give you the correct treatment. They will also do a urine test to see if you do have true cystitis (bladder or urinary tract infection). Alternatively, you could see your own doctor.
  • If you do have an infection in your urine, you will need antibiotic treatment. If the infection comes back, you will need more investigations to look for abnormalities of your urinary system, including your kidneys. Your doctor will arrange an X-ray and an ultrasound test, or an IVU (intravenous urogram).


First published on:
Reviewed and edited by: Diane Newman
Last updated: May 2021

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