Abacterial cystitis  

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Abacterial cystitis


Noninfectious cystitis is irritation of the bladder not caused by a urinary tract infection.

Alternative Names

Abacterial cystitis; Radiation cystitis; Chemical cystitis; Urethral syndrome - acute


Noninfectious cystitis is most common in women of childbearing years. The exact cause of noninfectious cystitis is often unknown.

However, use of bubble baths, feminine hygiene sprays, sanitary napkins, spermicidal jellies, radiation therapy to the pelvis area, and chemotherapy with certain types of medications, and other irritants.

See also interstitial cystitis.


  • Pressure in the lower pelvis
  • Painful urination
  • Frequent need to urinate (frequency)
  • Urgent need to urinate (urgency)
  • Decreased ability to hold urine
  • Need to urinate at night
  • Abnormal urine color -- cloudy
  • Blood in the urine
  • Foul or strong urine odor

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Penile pain
  • Flank pain
  • Fatigue

Exams and Tests

A urinalysis may reveal red blood cells (RBCs) and some white blood cells (WBCs).

A urine culture (clean catch) or catheterized urine specimen will not reveal any bacteria in the urine.

If the cystitis is related to radiation or chemotherapy, urine tests and cystoscopy (use of lighted instrument to look inside the bladder) may be needed.


The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms.

Medical Treatments:

  • Anti-cholinergic drugs can help improve bladder contraction and emptying. Possible side effects include slowed heart rate, low blood pressure, increased thirst, and stomach discomfort.
  • Muscle relaxants (such as diazepam) and alpha 1-blockers (prazosin) may be used to reduce the strong urge to urinate or need to urinate frequently.
  • Surgery is rarely performed unless a person has severe urinary retention or significant blood in the urine.


  • Avoid fluids that irritate the bladder such as alcohol, citrus juices, and caffeine.

Other therapies:

  • Bladder exercises to re-establish a pattern of regular and complete urination may help. Bladder training exercises involve developing a schedule of times when you should try to urinate, while trying to delay urination at all other times. One method is to force yourself to urinate every 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours, despite any leakage or urge to urinate in between these times. As you become skilled at waiting this long, gradually increase the time intervals by 1/2 hour until you are urinating every 3 to 4 hours.
  • Pelvic muscle strengthening exercises called Kegel exercises are used primarily to treat people with stress incontinence. However, these exercises may also help relieve symptoms of urgency related to long-term (chronic) noninfectious cystitis. Performing the exercises properly and regularly increases the method's success.
  • Electrical stimulation to the pelvis may be used as a treatment for noninfectious cystitis, but this is controversial.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Although most cases of cystitis are uncomfortable, they usually resolve over time.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if symptoms indicate that cystitis may be present, symptoms worsen, or new symptoms develop, especially fever, back or flank pain, and vomiting.


Avoid using items that may be irritants such as bubble baths, feminine hygiene sprays, sanitary napkins or tampons (especially scented products), and spermicidal jellies.

If you need to use such products, try to find those that do not cause irritation for you.

Walsh PC. Campbell's Urology. 8th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2002:572-575. 

Stenchever A. Comprehensive Gynecology. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2001:831.

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