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).

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  1. Alice R. A.
    Reply

    I use corn silk extract to prevent UTI’s. It also keeps my irritable bladder much more comfortable by reducing pressure. It really works. It is available in a health food store.

  2. FHR
    Reply

    I also followed the same advice as VAP and rarely had UTI’s. However, I also found that cranberry extract capsules worked miracles if used at first “tingling” sensation. Even used it for female dogs by breaking up the capsule into smaller amounts.

  3. Carol
    Reply

    Is the olive oil to be used only at the time of intercourse or on a daily/weekly basis? How is it best applied? How much? What about coconut oil, I have read that that may also work?
    Peoples Pharmacy response: Most women report using it every day. The easiest way to apply it is with clean fingers. Both olive and coconut oils appear to work equally well.

  4. SM
    Reply

    I am so glad that the word is getting out about D-Mannose. It has spared me from many a round of antibiotics! It is easy to take – tastes like confectioners sugar – and has been wonderfully effective for me and my family members.

  5. VAP
    Reply

    I had this same problem when I was first married, and the nurse at my doctor’s office told me that I should always urinate following intimacy, as the urine would cleanse the urinary tract of any bacteria that was there following intercourse.
    I have had very little trouble since she shared that by faithfully following that advice, unless for some reason it was “inconvenient” to run to the bathroom right away, and then I was just taking a risk!

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