Acupuncture for cystitis

Cystitis means simply ‘inflammation in the bladder’ and usually involves an urgent and frequent need to urinate accompanied by pain or stinging when passing urine. Cystitis is usually the result of an infection in the bladder, but it can also be caused by irritation or damage to the bladder wall. When it is caused by a bladder infection it is commonly called ‘bacterial cystitis’ and is usually acute in nature, whereas when cystitis is caused by chronic irritation it is known as ‘interstitial cystitis’. Bladder infections are more common amongst women, with estimates suggesting that about a third of women will experience at least one urinary tract infection by the time they are 24 years old, and almost half of all women will experience at least one over a lifetime. There is also a high level of recurrence of urinary tract infections (UTIs), with 25 to 35 per cent of initial UTIs followed by a recurrent infection within six months. 1

Patients who present with bacterial cystitis may find they respond quickly to acupuncture, and after a few treatments they will notice a reduction in pain, burning and discomfort. Not only does acupuncture help with existing symptoms, but with regular acupuncture our patients tend to find that they experience less recurrence of infection. This provides a huge relief to patients, many of whom present at the clinic after receiving repeated courses of antibiotics. A study of cystitis-prone women who experienced repeated recent UTIs showed that acupuncture treatment halved the rate of recurrence. 2

Unlike bacterial cystitis, interstitial cystitis may require more prolonged acupuncture treatment over a longer period of time. However acupuncture has been shown to be able to support patients through this debilitating condition. A study carried out with 18 female interstitial cystitis patients showed an 81 per cent improvement in physical symptoms (including pain and urinary frequency) and a 90 per cent improvement in emotional wellbeing.3

Your practitioner may also provide lifestyle and dietary advice to help prevent recurrence of the condition. Herbal medicine may also be used, utilising herbs that have a natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine constitute a safe and effective treatment to improve the symptoms associated with both bacterial and interstitial cystitis, focusing on creating a stronger immune system and restoring the body’s natural healing mechanisms.



  1. Ząbkowski, T, Jurkiewicz, B, Saracyn, M. (2015). Treatment of Recurrent Bacterial Cystitis by Intravesical Instillations of Hyaluronic Acid, Journal of Urology, Vol 12 No 3, p.2192- 2195
  2. Alraek, T, Soedal, LIF, Fagerheim, SU, et al. (2002). “Acupuncture Treatment in the Prevention of Uncomplicated Recurrent Lower Urinary Tract Infections in Adult Women”, American Journal of Public Health. 92(10), p. 1609-1611.
  3. Tucker, T. (2004) The Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis by Acupuncture, Journal Of Chinese Medicine, Number 75, p. 38-44.

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