A variety of causes can lead to bladder infections, or cystitis, which affect both sexes, though disproportionately. While men can and do develop bladder infections, they more commonly affect women. In fact, some women experience recurring bladder infections. Understanding the causes of bladder infection is the first step in preventing them.
Common causes in women. Sexual intercourse can cause a type of bladder infection known as "honeymoon cystitis." The motion of intercourse facilitates the movement of the bacteria toward the urethra and then into the bladder. Pregnant women are susceptible to bladder infections because the growing and developing fetus interferes with the complete emptying of the bladder when urinating. The remaining stagnant urine in the bladder becomes a reproductive haven for bacteria. Women who use diaphragms for contraception may also become more prone to bladder infections due to pressure on the bladder. In addition, many diaphragms are coated in a spermicide that also kills off good bacteria, leaving little to hold "bad" bacteria in check. Women who are maturing and who have passed through menopause may experience recurring bladder infections because the decrease in estrogen thins out the vaginal and vulvar tissue around the urethra, leaving it more susceptible to bacterial invasion. A prolapsed uterus or bladder can also predispose a woman to bladder infections. This is more commonly seen in women who have had children.
Male bladder infections. Cystitis in men is usually indicative of a prostate infection, or a full or partial obstruction of the urethra. In the case of a bacterial prostate infection, antibiotics can cure the infection. Because it takes a considerable length of time for the antibiotics to reach the prostate, it's possible for the bacteria to re-infect the bladder if the antibiotics are discontinued prematurely. Urethral obstructions are frequently associated with stones passing from the kidneys. The stone obstructs the urethra which prevents complete emptying of the bladder when urinating. The remaining urine in the bladder serves as an excellent incubator for any bacteria that may be present. In addition, the reduced urinary flow may be insufficient to rinse away any bacteria that may be present in small numbers.