Can Using Lube Cause a UTI?

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Jessica Guht
Categorized as UTI

Lubrication can be useful for multiple things. You can use it for sex, masturbation, inserting tampons, or even sometimes for random things like greasing a squeaky door. Finding a lube that you like can take some experimentation because you want one that feels right for you. They can be oil-based, water-based, or silicone-based. They can be flavoured, scented, warming, and more. But can using lube increase your risk of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI)? It’s possible it could be a contributing factor in contracting UTIs.

Can Lube Cause a UTI?

The use of lube doesn’t directly cause UTIs, but it might increase your risk of one. UTIs are infections of the urinary tract that are caused by bacteria. That means they might be made more likely by any factors that increase the risk of bacteria growing in the urethra or other parts of the urinary tract. Some types of lube could increase the risk of UTIs. In particular, doctors recommend avoiding oil-based lubricants and petroleum jellies. Lube containing spermicide might also increase the risk of UTIs.

However, it might not all be black and white. Some studies have shown that lubricating products could inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause UTIs. Vaginal dryness could make UTIs more likely because it can spread bacteria from the vagina to the urethra, but lubricants can help.

Can You Get a UTI from Friction?

It is possible that friction could give you a UTI in that movement against your genitals can make it more likely for bacteria to travel into your urethra. UTIs aren’t contagious, but bacteria that cause UTIs can come from having sex. It could come from your partner or it could be bacteria that was already in your own body (your vagina or anus), which gets into your urethra. Friction during sex can also irritate the urethra.

Can Using Lubricant Help Prevent UTIs?

Using lubricant could help to prevent UTIs if you use the right type. People who are prone to UTIs are more likely to benefit from switching to a different product if they want to reduce the number of UTIs they get. Using a small amount of lubricant during sex can help to prevent friction, reducing irritation and the movement of bacteria.

What Type of Lubricants Are Best If You Are Prone to UTIs?

Switching to a different type of lube can help you if you get recurrent UTIs. Doctors usually suggest using a water-based lubricant. Oil-based lubricants can cause inflammation and, additionally, can also cause latex condoms to break down. So it’s better to look for a water-based lubricant that won’t cause these issues.

Can You Use Lube If You Already Have a UTI?

If you already have a UTI, doctors generally recommend avoiding sex until your symptoms have cleared. Having vaginal intercourse or other types of penetration (fingers or toys) could put pressure on your urethra and urinary tract. This could worsen symptoms and cause pain. Sex can also introduce new bacteria and the bacteria could be passed to your partner too. You can still use lube to help relieve vaginal dryness, but be sure to wash your hands before applying it.

What Else Can Cause UTIs?

UTIs can be caused by a range of factors. You may be more likely to get them if you’ve had them before. Some things that could increase your risk of UTIs include wearing tight clothes, not drinking enough water, and not urinating frequently enough.

Your habits surrounding sex are important to consider if you want to prevent STIs. Sex is a known factor in the risk of developing UTIs. It increases the risk of bacteria moving into the urethra and causing an infection. Some risk factors can include the use of spermicides, multiple sex partners, and frequency of sex.

What to Do to Prevent UTIs from Sex

There are some steps you can take if you want to prevent UTIs from sex. A few changes to your habits can help to reduce the likelihood of a UTI occurring. As well as using the right lubrication, you can also benefit from avoiding spermicides.

Your urination habits are also important to consider. Doctors recommend urinating before and after sex if you want to prevent UTIs. This will help to clear bacteria from your urinary tract and help to reduce the chance of an infection developing. It might also be helpful to wipe your genital and anal area before and after sex to clean it. Some types of birth control, such as diaphragms, can increase UTI risk too, so considering another option could be a good idea.

When to See a Doctor

It’s always a good idea to see a doctor if you think that you have the symptoms of a UTI. UTIs need to be treated with antibiotics because they rarely go away on their own. Speaking to a doctor will allow you to get a diagnosis and the best treatment, whether you have a UTI or the problem is something else. Doctors can also give you advice on how to prevent UTIs in the future.

Get Help from an Online Doctor

Speak to an online doctor if you want to get medical help quickly and confidentially. An online consultation allows you to get the advice that you need and benefit from online prescriptions for any medication or treatment. With DrHouse you can start an on-demand visit at a time that suits you and attend the appointment wherever you feel works for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Lubricants could increase the risk of UTIs, especially if you use oil-based lubricants
  • At the same time, friction and dryness could lead to UTIs too
  • Using a small amount of water-based lubricant is the best option if you want to prevent UTIs
  • Avoid having sex if you have a UTI to allow the infection to heal
  • Other behaviors during, before, and after sex could increase the risk of UTIs
  • Practice good hygiene, pee before and after sex, and avoid spermicides to help prevent UTIs
  • See a doctor if you have the symptoms of a UTI

Sources:

  • Foxman, Betsy, et al. “First-Time Urinary Tract Infection and Sexual Behavior.” Epidemiology, vol. 6, no. 2, 1995, pp. 162–68. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3702318 
  • Bruce Voeller, Anne H. Coulson, Gerald S. Bernstein, Robert M. Nakamura, Mineral oil lubricants cause rapid deterioration of latex condoms, Contraception, Volume 39, Issue 1, 1989, Pages 95-102, ISSN 0010-7824, https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-7824(89)90018-8 .
  • Betsy Foxman, Shannon D. Manning, Patricia Tallman, Richard Bauer, Lixin Zhang, James S. Koopman, Brenda Gillespie, Jack D. Sobel, Carl F. Marrs, Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Are More Likely than Commensal E. coli to Be Shared between Heterosexual Sex Partners, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 156, Issue 12, 15 December 2002, Pages 1133–1140, https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwf159
  • Hung KJ, Hudson PL, Bergerat A, Hesham H, Choksi N, Mitchell C. Effect of commercial vaginal products on the growth of uropathogenic and commensal vaginal bacteria. Sci Rep. 2020 May 6;10(1):7625. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-63652-x . PMID: 32376907; PMCID: PMC7203152.
  • Stephan D. Fihn, Edward J. Boyko, Esther H. Normand, Chi-Ling Chen, Jane R. Grafton, Marcia Hunt, Patricia Yarbro, Delia Scholes, Andy Stergachis, Association between Use of Spermicide-coated Condoms and Escherichia coli Urinary Tract infection in Young Women, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 144, Issue 5, 1 September 1996, Pages 512–520, https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a008958

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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