Cystitis is another term for bladder inflammation. It’s often used when referring to a bladder infection, which happens when bacteria get into the bladder through the urethra, which is the opening where urine comes out. It’s more common in women, likely because the anus and female urethra are closer together.

But men can and do get cystitis occasionally. Read on to learn how to recognize the symptoms of cystitis and how this infection is treated.

The symptoms of cystitis aren’t that different between the sexes.

You may notice:

  • a frequent urge to urinate, even if you just did
  • tingling or burning while urination
  • frequent urination, with only small amounts coming out
  • difficulty urinating

A more severe infection may also cause:

  • bloody urine
  • cloudy or smelly urine
  • pelvic discomfort
  • fever
  • fatigue

See a doctor right away if you experience these symptoms of a more severe infection.

There are several types of cystitis, each with different causes:

  • Bacterial cystitis. This is caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis, sometimes called painful bladder syndrome, refers tolong-term inflammation of your bladder. It’s much more common in women, but it can affect men, too.
  • Drug-induced cystitis. Your urinary system helps to flush out toxins and other unwanted substances. The filtered remains of some medications as they leave your body can inflame your bladder. This is particularly common with chemotherapy drugs, such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) and ifosfamide (Ifex).
  • Radiation cystitis. Radiation therapy in your pelvic region can also cause bladder inflammation.
  • Foreign-body cystitis. Using a catheter in your urethra for a long period of time can introduce infectious bacteria into your urethra or damage urethral tissue. This makes you more prone to infection.
  • Chemical cystitis. Exposure to certain chemicals in everyday products, such as heavily fragranced soaps or shampoos, can result in allergic reactions that cause inflammation.

Men generally don’t have a very high risk of developing cystitis. This is largely due to the anatomy of the male reproductive system. Remember, the anus and female urethra sit close together, providing more opportunities for bacteria to enter the urethra. The male urethra is also longer, meaning bacteria entering the urethra must travel farther to reach the bladder.

But several things can make you more prone to developing cystitis as a man, including:

  • sexual activity involving your penis
  • using urinary catheters
  • having an enlarged prostate
  • conditions that weaken your immune system, such as HIV or diabetes
  • holding your urine for long periods of time
  • bladder stones

There are a few tests your doctor will use to diagnose cystitis, including:

  • Urinalysis. You’ll provide a small sample of urine that’s sent to a lab to test it for infectious bacteria. This may also involve a bacterial culture to figure out what kind of bacteria is causing the infection.
  • Cystoscopy. Cystoscopy involves insertinga long, thin, tube-shaped tool with a tiny camera and light at the end into your urethra and up to your bladder. This allows your doctor to check for signs of inflammation or infection. They may also collect a tissue sample in the process if you’ve had cystitis multiple times.
  • Imaging. If you’re experiencing cystitis symptoms but don’t show any signs of an infection, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound or X-ray. These allow your doctor to look at the tissues and structures around your bladder to see if any other condition is causing your bladder symptoms, such as a growth of some kind.

Some cases of cystitis clear up on their own with a little time. But if you have an infection that’s not going away, you’ll likely need oral antibiotics to clear it up.

There are also a few things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms and prevent future cases of cystitis:

  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Some believe drinking 100 percent cranberry juice (make sure it doesn’t contain additional sugars, preservatives, or juice concentrates) may help; however, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim. Don’t drink it if you’re using the blood-thinner warfarin (Coumadin), as this can cause bleeding.
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated.
  • Urinate often. Whenever you feel the need to go, do it. Also, make sure to urinate immediately after sexual activity involving your penis.
  • When you shower, clean your genital area gently with just warm water. If you do use soap, make sure it’s gentle and unscented to avoid irritation.
  • Don’t use any colognes or fragrances on your penis. Chemicals in these products can irritate your genital skin and increase your risk of cystitis.

While it’s uncommon, men can get cystitis. It’s usually a temporary condition that goes away with either antibiotics or home treatment. Just make sure to follow up with a doctor if your symptoms aren’t getting any better within a few days.