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Bladder problems

Urinary tract infection (UTI): cystitis and interstitial cystitis

This problem is quite common in women as the urinary tract is shorter than in men and bacteria from the vagina or rectum can easily be passed into the ureter. About 50% of women will experience a UTI in the course of their life.


This is a common type of a lower UTI, particularly for women, and is caused by inflammation of the bladder, usually from a bladder infection.
Possible symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the pelvis and/or low down in the abdomen.
  • A stinging or burning sensation when passing water.
  • Wanting to pass water urgently and more frequently than normal.
  • Passing water that is smelly, darker or cloudier than usual.
  • Feeling unwell, tired and achy.

For more information about cystitis, its treatment and management, visit: www.cobfoundation.org 

Interstitial cystitis

Some women seem to be prone to experiencing frequent bouts of cystitis and require help managing this in the longer term. Interstitial cystitis differs from cystitis because there is no obvious infection (cystitis is caused by an infection).

Possible symptoms can include:

  • Intense pelvic pain in the middle of the abdomen just below the navel.
  • A sudden and urgent need to urinate.
  • Wanting to pass water more often than before.
  • Waking several times in the night to urinate.

For more information about interstitial cystitis, its treatment and management, visit: www.cobfoundation.org 

Urinary incontinence

This condition is where urine escapes from the bladder unintentionally. It is very common, particularly in women after childbirth.

Possible symptoms can include:

  • Urine leaking because of pressure affecting the bladder such as when coughing or laughing – known as 'stress incontinence'.
  • Urine leaking just after feeling a sudden urge to urinate – known as 'urge incontinence'.
  • If the bladder is unable to empty fully when urinating, the remaining urine leaks out – known as 'overflow incontinence'.
  • Where the bladder doesn't function properly to store urine at all, resulting in a constant leak or frequent leakages – known as 'total incontinence'.

For more information about urinary incontinence, its treatment and management, visit: our 'Pelvic floor and PGP' web page and www.bladderandbowel.org and NICE guidance on Urinary Incontinence in women.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can form when the urine includes too many minerals and salts that can collect together within the kidney to form a hard stone which might resemble a tiny pebble or grow to reach the size of a golf ball. There are different kinds of stones but the most common is calcium.

Possible symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the back and side.
  • The pelvis, groin and genital areas may also develop pains.
  • There may be a fever.
  • A burning sensation when urinating and the flow may be slow.
  • A feeling of nausea or a loss of appetite.
  • Sometimes blood can appear within the urine.

For more information about kidney stones, their treatment and management,visit: www.bladderandbowel.org 

Return to 'If it's not PGP, then what could it be?' page.

Content added in 2017.

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Please note, the Pelvic Partnership consists of volunteers who have had Pelvic Girdle Pain and wish to support other women. We aim to pass on information based on research evidence where available. We are not medical professionals and cannot offer medical advice. The Pelvic Partnership takes no responsibility for any action you do or do not take as a result of reading this information.
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