Can You Have Sex With a UTI?

6214
Jessica Guht
Categorized as UTI

Doctors recommend against having sex if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). That’s because sexual intercourse may disturb the bacteria causing the infection, pushing them further up the urethra, and making symptoms worse. 

This post explores the risks of having sex with a UTI, tips for safer sex, and how you can prevent urinary tract infections from recurring in the future. 

Table of Contents

Can You Have Sex With a UTI?

Bacteria cause most UTIs. Infection usually occurs when dirty hands or fecal matter around the anus come into contact with the urethra, the small tube through which you urinate. 

Women are more likely to experience UTIs than men for anatomical reasons. That’s because the urethral opening sits in a vulnerable spot, closer to both vaginal and anal bacteria. 

Sex can make UTIs worse by putting pressure on the urethra and spreading existing infection around. It can also increase the volume of bacteria in and around the urethra, making symptoms worse. Because of this, women who have sex frequently are more likely to experience recurring urinary tract infections than those who don’t. 

According to research, condoms may increase the risk of UTIs in women, too. Spermicidal agents appear to change the bacterial chemistry of the vagina, allowing for more opportunistic E.coli infections. 

What Are the Risks of Having Sex With a UTI?

The risks of having sex with a UTI include pain and irritation around the urethra. Sex may transfer bacteria from other places toward the urethral opening making symptoms worse. For women, pressure on the walls of the vagina may also press against the bladder, worsening pain. 

The risks of having sex with a UTI remains high if you use lube, toys, a condom, or oral methods. That’s because all these methods spread bacteria. Therefore, doctors recommend that you only resume sex or any form of sexual contact when you are symptom-free. 

Can a UTI Be Transmitted From a Woman to a Man During Sexual Intercourse?

Medical authorities do not consider UTIs to be sexually transmitted infections, like gonorrhea, HIV, or chlamydia. However, partners can still exchange bacteria. And this means that there is a risk that a woman could pass her infection on to a man.

E. coli bacteria are responsible for around 90 percent of UTIs. They mainly originate in the colon and feces. During penetrative or oral sex, these bacteria can migrate to the urethra of the man and cause infection. Action by the hands, genitals, mouth, and sex toys can spread bacteria to the urethral opening at the tip of the penis both directly and indirectly from the woman’s vagina and anus. 

How Long Should You Wait to Have Sex After a UTI?

If you have a UTI, you should wait until it clears completely before engaging in any sexual activity. 

If you take antibiotics and you have no other complications, your UTI infection should go away in three to seven days. However, if you are pregnant, wearing a catheter or have a condition that suppresses your immune system, recovery may take up to two weeks. 

You can speed up recovery from UTIs by adopting healthy lifestyle practices in combination with taking regular antibiotics. 

Start by drinking more water and peeing often. The more you pee, the more bacteria you can flush out of your system. Try getting an additional 1.5 liters of water per day. 

In addition, avoid caffeine. According to research, tea and coffee may make symptoms worse. 

You can also try taking cranberry juice. Cranberries contain special phytonutrients that make it harder for bacteria to stick to the walls of the bladder and urethra, encouraging your body to flush them out. 

Tips for Having Safer Sex While You Have a UTI

Unfortunately, there is no way to practice safe sex if you have a UTI. However, if you do decide to have sex, avoid engaging in sexual practices that are more likely to spread bacteria from the anus to your genitals. If you have anal sex, use a condom. Don’t transfer between the vagina and the anus during sex, as this can increase the bacterial load. 

How to Prevent Future UTIs?

There are several ways to prevent UTIs from recurring

First, wash your hands before and after sex. Proper hygiene reduces the likelihood of transferring bacteria from your partner’s genitals and anus to your urethra. 

Second, talk to your doctor about using superior barrier contraceptives. Condoms, diaphragms, and IUDs increase the risk of UTIs. 

Third, pee after sex. Peeing flushes out bacteria from the urethra. Make sure that you drink plenty of water before and after sex to keep your bladder flushed. 

You might also want to try consuming more cranberries in your diet. Research shows weak evidence that cranberry consumption reduces the risk of UTIs. 

Lastly, when you go to the bathroom, wipe from front to back. Wiping from back to front may push fecal matter into the urethra, worsening the infection. 

When to See a Doctor?

If you have a UTI, it is a good idea to see a doctor as soon as you can. Most UTIs will not clear up on their own and may lead to complications, such as sepsis. 

Visit your doctor as a matter of urgency if you have symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection. Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and tenderness in the upper back indicate bacteria in the kidneys. 

If you have already taken a course of antibiotics but your symptoms haven’t gone away, you may need to return to your doctor to try a different antibiotic. 

How Can DrHouse Help You?

If you think you might have a urinary tract infection (UTI), DrHouse can help. With DrHouse, you can start a virtual doctor visit in 15 minutes or less.

Our clinicians will review your symptoms, diagnose your infection, and recommend the best course of treatment for your UTI. You can also get a prescription for antibiotics if necessary. So, if you’re struggling with a UTI, don’t hesitate and download our telehealth app and get started today!

Key Takeaways

  • Doctors recommend against having sex with UTI because it can make the infection worse
  • Medics do not consider UTIs to be sexually transmitted diseases. However, people can pass UTI-causing bacteria to their partners
  • There is no way to practice safe sex with a UTI, but you can reduce your risk by washing your hands and avoiding anal sex
  • You should visit a doctor if your symptoms don’t go away by themselves or you believe you have an upper UTI affecting the kidneys

Sources:

  • Jepson RG, Williams G, Craig JC. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD001321. DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001321.pub5
  • Maserejian NN, Wager CG, Giovannucci EL, Curto TM, McVary KT, McKinlay JB. Intake of caffeinated, carbonated, or citrus beverage types and development of lower urinary tract symptoms in men and women. Am J Epidemiol. 2013;177(12):1399-1410. doi:https://www.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kws411 
  • Betsy Foxman, Lixin Zhang, Patricia Tallman, Bonnie C. Andree, Ann M. Geiger, James S. Koopman, Brenda W. Gillespie, Karen A. Palin, Jack D. Sobel, Christopher K. Rode, Craig A. Bloch, Carl F. Marrs, Transmission of Uropathogens between Sex Partners, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 175, Issue 4, April 1997, Pages 989–992, https://doi.org/10.1086/514007
  • 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
  • Urinary tract infections, Office on Women’s Health (OASH). Avaialable from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/urinary-tract-infections 
  • Betsy Foxman, Epidemiology of urinary tract infections: incidence, morbidity, and economic costs, The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 113, Issue 1, Supplement 1, 2002, Pages 5-13, ISSN 0002-9343, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9343(02)01054-9
  • Ben J. Barnett, David S Stephens, Urinary Tract Infection: An Overview, The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Volume 314, Issue 4, 1997, Pages 245-249, ISSN 0002-9629, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9629(15)40208-3

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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