UTIs are a very common health condition and, as explained by an introduction to the epidemiology and burden of urinary tract infections are the single most common type of outpatient infection in the US. If you experience one, it’s likely that you’ll have many questions to ask. “How long after UTI can I have sex?” is likely to be one of the top items on the agenda.
Here’s everything you need to know on this topic.
What are UTIs?
UTIs are bacterial infections that can affect the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. It occurs when foreign germs find their way into the urinary tract system. In most cases, it comes from fecal bacteria and most commonly occurs in the lower parts of the urinary tract. While bladder infections are uncomfortable, the biggest dangers occur when UTIs spread to the kidneys.
Can You Have Sex With a UTI?
Sex with a UTI is technically possible. However, it’s unlikely that you’d want to share intimacy when experiencing pelvic pain, the urge to urinate, and general discomfort in this area of the body.
Molly A. Ingersoll’s 2017 research confirms that sex is an often underappreciated driving force that increases the risk of infection and influences the host immune response. Furthermore, multiple studies have shown a correlation between sexual activity and an increased risk of getting UTIs with new sexual partners shown to be another risk factor.
Why is sex not a good idea while you have a UTI?
Sex doesn’t only increase the risks before you develop a UTI. It is possible to simultaneously experience two UTIs because two bacterial colonies may develop and grow in different parts of the urinary tract system. Likewise, it is estimated that over 20% of people who experience UTIs will suffer recurring issues within six months of the initial infection. It is also statistically shown that 80% of RTIs are reinfections, which underlines why sex with a UTI is ill-advised.
While UTIs are not a sexually transmitted disease, the bacteria can be transferred between partners. So, if you have a urinary tract infection, having sex may put your partner at risk.
Can you do something to make sex with a UTI safer?
Up to 80% of UTIs in premenopausal women are found in women who have had sex within the last 24 hours, which shows how much of an impact intercourse can have. However, there are several ways to make sex safer when you have a UTI. Firstly, your partner should wear an unscented condom as scented items can lead to irritation.
Hygiene is the other major contributing factor. Urinating both before and after sex can flush out foreign bacteria before it has a chance to grow. Meanwhile, avoiding anal intercourse is advised as this can subsequently transport bacteria into the urinary tract.
How long after a UTI can you have sex?
Sexual intercourse may introduce new bacteria to the urinary tract system while simultaneously putting pressure on the bladder, which may lead to irritation and exacerbate the symptoms. It is also possible that penetrative sex will encourage bacteria to spread higher up the urinary tract system and towards the kidneys. Therefore, it is important to avoid sex when you have a symptomatic UTI, even intercourse itself wouldn’t leave you feeling uncomfortable.
Some experts state that it is OK to have sex after three days of antibiotics or as soon as the symptoms have gone away. However, a study into the Alternative Management of Uncomplicated UTIs In Women explains that antibiotics usually help UTIs pass in 2-3 weeks. To be safe, it is best to wait two weeks after the symptoms pass before resuming your sex life. It will reduce the risk of a recurrent UTI or passing the bacteria onto your partner.
As well as penetrative sex, it is important to avoid receiving oral sex as this also introduces foreign bacteria to the urinary tract. If you want to try sexual intercourse between day 3 and day 14 after the symptoms have passed, be sure to act with care by making sex safer and stopping if you notice the symptoms start to return.
How to prevent a UTI from sex
In addition to practicing safer sex, you can help prevent a UTI by limiting the number of sexual partners you have. Further steps include staying hydrated before and after sex while also avoiding douching. The female urethra is also shorter than a male’s, which has been listed as one of the main reasons for the contrast in male and female cases and shows how fecal bacteria is a leading problem. As such, wiping front to back is advised – after sex and in daily life.
How to treat a UTI?
Some UTIs naturally go away by themselves, especially when you practice good hygiene and pee regularly to stop further bacteria growth. This is most likely to happen when the symptoms are mild. However, many UTIs will need to be treated with a short course of antibiotics. A range of home remedies may be used to help reduce the symptoms and discomfort.
When to see a doctor?
When you have a UTI, speaking to a doctor is advised in case a prescription of antibiotics is required to clear up the infection. The Journal of Adolescent Health also explains that while UTIs are not significantly linked to STIs, they do share several symptoms. As such, when a sexually active person experiences UTI symptoms, seeing a doctor offers an opportunity to consider STIs.
Get help from an online doctor
Speaking to your family doctor about UTIs and sexual health can be daunting. Thankfully, DrHouse can connect you to an online doctor today (often within 15 minutes) to discuss all aspects of female health and UTIs. A full video consultation is the fastest and most convenient way to gain a diagnosis and take any necessary treatment to bring normality back to your daily life.
UTIs are uncomfortable and will cause disruption to many aspects of your life. Sex is understandably affected by urinary tract infections. While it is possible to keep having intercourse, it is unlikely to feel as good while it also puts you at risk of further urinary problems. Take quick action to treat the condition and sex can return to your agenda within a fortnight or so.
- Medina M, Castillo-Pino E. An introduction to the epidemiology and burden of urinary tract infections. Ther Adv Urol. 2019 May 2;11:1756287219832172. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1177/1756287219832172 . PMID: 31105774; PMCID: PMC6502976.
- Ingersoll MA (2017) Sex differences shape the response to infectious diseases. PLoS Pathog 13(12): e1006688. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006688
- Al-Badr A, Al-Shaikh G. Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women: A review. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2013 Aug;13(3):359-67. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.12816/0003256 . Epub 2013 Jun 25. PMID: 23984019; PMCID: PMC3749018.
- Meryl Davids Landau, The Link Between UTIs and Sex: Causes and How to Prevent Them (2020) , Everyday Health, Available from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/urinary-tract-infections/the-link-between-utis-and-sex.aspx
- Abdul Kader Mohiuddin, Alternative Management of Uncomplicated UTIs In Women, 2019, Journal of Urology & Nephrology Studies, ISSN: 2641-1687, Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Abdul-Kader-Mohiuddin-2/publication/334848851_Alternative_Management_of_Uncomplicated_UTIs_In_Women/links/5d4343daa6fdcc370a742ad8/Alternative-Management-of-Uncomplicated-UTIs-In-Women.pdf