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How I Handled Recurrent Cystitis

How I Handled Recurrent Cystitis

This weeks’ guest blog tackles the elephant in the bathroom: cystitis. If you’ve ever brushed off that sinking feeling of needing to pee multiple times in an hour, aches and pains below the belt, you'll understand exactly where cystitis-battling warrior Cherelle is coming from. She shares an insight into her own journey with recurrent symptoms and how she's tackled them:

"I’m 24 and at my very first ‘proper job’ in an office. My tongue is fuzzy from the litre of cranberry juice I’ve slowly siphoned through a reusable straw, the tang of metal merging with the tart, sweetened drink I’ve always turned to at the first twinges below my knicker line. I’m sure everyone in my tiny office wonders why my lips are a stark fuchsia and how I can sustain that many trips to the toilet. I work in IT and its the year 2012, so the team is 99% men and my colleagues just wouldn’t get it, even if I tried to explain. Frankly, I didn’t know the answer myself.

This continued as I hurtled through my twenties, enduring flare-ups here and there but nothing I thought I couldn’t handle. It was probably the silly nylon knickers I just couldn’t not buy that had diamante butterflies on the front (I've learnt my lesson!). Maybe that that dirty weekend where I was too lazy to pee after sex every-single-time, too.

Properly talking about how to look after your vagina wasn’t a thing when I was at school. The teachers still made jokes about periods as 'women’s troubles’ and sent us away with hefty sanitary towels, but not a whisper about the other stuff that goes on like cystitis, thrush or anything like that. It’s no wonder I thought this was normal, or felt too shy to ask for help. Even my mum didn't talk about vaginas with me!

It was only when I hit 31 that I couldn’t ignore the fact that something wasn’t right. I'd spent years taking tips from overheard conversations in gym changing rooms, and was constantly downing fruit juices, and taking cold showers in an attempt to ride it out. I'd had enough of cold baths to suppress aches and shaking off dull, lingering pains in my stomach, too. It was time to face up to the fact that this wasn’t 'normal'. 

It was only when I finally went to my GP and she identified it as recurrent cystitis that everything made sense. I'd spent too long hoping and praying that my cystitis and UTIs would just go away on their own, but I now know that there's treatment and support available. With medical guidance, I’ve been able to adjust my lifestyle to help soothe most of the cystitis symptoms I was seeing on a monthly basis. Changing my mindset wasn't an overnight thing, but I've worked hard to be more mindful about how I treat my body. Right now, I:

💗 Have stopped using spermicidal lube. Lube is great and everyone should be getting on it but some ingredients make me really sore. 

💗 Pee straight after sex. No cuddling, no 'five more minutes of catching my breath'. I don't apologise for it either, and my current partner knows why I'm so strict about it!

💗 Am taking an antibiotic regularly to prevent cystitis, thanks to my GP's advice. It gives me a bit of peace of mind and even though I sometimes do get a flare up, it's nowhere near as often or as bad as before.

If you’re unsure of anything to do with your vaginal health, go and see a doctor. It was the best thing I ever did and more importantly, you could potentially catch and treat a more serious condition before it affects you permanently.

I'm also the biggest champion for talking about vaginas that I know. My friends always tease me but we've had more conversations about what's going on down there than we ever did when we were clueless teenagers. It gets easier the more you talk about it, and I've noticed that they're more open with their partners, mums or even kids (yes, I'm getting old). It makes me really happy. This is how it should be: vaginas aren't actually embarrassing. We need to shout about them from the rooftops!"

Want more?

  • Looking for cystitis relief? Get safe, effective cystitis symptom relief delivered straight to your door via same-day-dispatch.
  • Got a cystitis story? Join the chat over on our HANX Life forum here.

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