Q. For nearly 30 years I got “honeymoon cystitis” following intercourse. After menopause I learned from a TV show that women were using olive oil for postmenopausal vaginal dryness.
I was pleasantly surprised that it not only assisted with lubrication but ever since I started using it, I have not experienced cystitis (urinary tract infection) following intimacy.
A. We found one study on the use of olive oil as a sexual lubricant (Journal of Sexual Medicine, online, May 1, 2013). The investigators reported that women who experienced painful intercourse benefited from olive oil lubrication, pelvic floor relaxation exercises and the vaginal moisturizer Replens. Do keep in mind that olive oil and other oil-based lubricants will destroy latex, rendering condoms and diaphragms ineffective for contaception or disease prevention.
We found no studies indicating that olive oil or other lubricants would prevent recurrent urinary tract infections. Reducing irritation during intercourse, however, is likely to be beneficial.
Some readers have found supplements helpful in battling cystitis. Judi said: “I’ve found that a combination of D-Mannose powder (a sugar, dissolved in water) and the herb Coleus forskohlii is a good combination for preventing UTIs. If I know I’m under stress, or if I start to feel the slightest tingling, I’ll start downing the stuff.
“The D-Mannose is reported to surround bacteria and particulate in the bladder and remove it; the Coleus forskohlii is said to help the D-Mannose get into the folds and crevices of the bladder and pull stuff out. Where cranberry juice and extract actually seems to irritate my bladder, neither of these items have ever caused discomfort–only provided relief.”
Although Judi didn’t find it helpful, PP is enthusiastic about cranberry juice: “Since drinking about 4 oz. cranberry juice every day I haven’t had a UTI. When overseas and the juice was unavailable I used cranberry extract pills (bought in the US) when an infection showed up. It was over in 2 or 3 days. A much better solution than an antibiotic. Save that for when it’s really needed!”
There is some research to support the use of cranberry extract, either as a concentrate (Urology, online April 15, 2010) or in a powder (BMC Infectious Diseases, April 14, 2010). Cranberry products suppress inflammation in the urinary tract, but they work best in people who are not at ultra-high risk (Vasileiou, Nutrition Research, Aug., 2013).