UTIs are unpleasant infections that leave you with a burning sensation when peeing and a frequent need to urinate.
Many people (especially women) may notice that their UTI frequency increases with their sexual activity. However, while sex increases the risk of UTIs, many preventive actions can be taken before, during, and after sex to prevent the risk of developing a UTI.
Continue reading to see how you can avoid a UTI after sex.
Table of Contents
- What Are UTIs?
- Can Having Sex Cause a UTI?
- How to Avoid a UTI After Sex?
- What Else Can You Do to Prevent UTIs?
- How to Treat a UTI?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Are UTIs?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are unpleasant infections where bacteria enter the urethra and travel through the urinary tract, allowing them to infect the urethra, ureter, kidneys, or, most commonly, the bladder.
Some of the most common symptoms of UTIs include:
- pain or burning when urinating
- feeling like you need to urinate frequently
- pressure or pain in the pelvic or abdominal area
- urine that is cloudy or smells
- blood in the urine
UTI Risk Factors
There are some factors that can put someone at a higher risk of a UTI, with the greatest being gender. In fact, research shows that women are around eight times more likely to develop UTIs than men.
This is because of the anatomy of the female body, which places the urethra closer to the anus than in men. This close distance makes it easier for bacteria to travel from the anus to the urethra.
Additionally, the urethra is shorter in women, which means bacteria have an easier time traveling to and infecting the bladder.
Women going through menopause who have dry or atrophic vaginal tissue are also at a higher risk of UTIs.
Besides gender, health conditions such as obesity and diabetes can also increase the risk of a UTI.
Also, those who have had a UTI previously are more likely to have one again.
Can Having Sex Cause a UTI?
Sexual intercourse is a common cause of UTIs, and this is because the act of sex can introduce bacteria to the urethra, which then increases the risk of a UTI. Additionally, if your partner has a UTI, having sex may increase the risk of them transferring the bacteria causing their infection to you.
Not only can sex introduce bacteria to the urethra, but it can also bring bacteria from the anus, most notably E. coli, to the vagina. E. coli then has a greater chance of infecting the urethra.
Oral sex can also introduce the bacteria in someone’s saliva to the urethra, which can then lead to a UTI.
How to Avoid a UTI After Sex?
While sex is a significant risk factor for UTIs, there are some preventive measures you can take to avoid UTIs. Following these recommendations is highly recommended for women who experience recurring UTIs, as addressing these areas may result in less frequent infections.
Urinate After Having Sex
Urinating after sex helps to clear out any bacteria that may have found their way into the urethra before they have a chance to travel further into the urinary tract and cause an infection.
For those who experience frequent UTIs, it’s best to urinate immediately after sex to protect yourself.
Avoid Spermicidal Condoms
Spermicide is applied to some condoms as additional prevention against pregnancy. However, spermicide helps to facilitate the growth of E. coli, the bacteria that most often cause UTIs, by making it easier for E. coli to adhere to the sides of your vagina. Not only that, but spermicide inhibits the good bacteria in the vagina that would normally kill E. coli, further helping E. coli survive.
While spermicidal condoms will not cause a UTI, they do make them more likely because they help E. coli thrive. If you suffer from recurring UTIs, it may be time to look at the condoms you use and switch to a different type.
Wash Your Genitals Before and After Sex
Washing your genitals before sex helps remove any bacteria in that area, helping to prevent the introduction of bacteria to the urethra. As an additional precaution, it is also recommended to wash the genitals after sex in case any bacteria found its way from the anus to the vagina or was transferred from your partner to you.
When washing your genitals, be sure to wipe from front to back; otherwise, you increase the risk of spreading bacteria from the anus to the vagina. Also, use only a mild soap and water to cleanse your genitals, as scented products may affect the pH of your vagina, making it easier for harmful bacteria to grow.
Use a Vaginal Lubricant
Increased friction during sex can irritate the urethra, which may make it easier for bacteria to infect it. By using a vaginal lubricant, you help to prevent this irritation.
This is an especially important step for menopausal women who suffer from dryness in their vagina.
Avoid Flavored Condoms or Lube
Flavored condoms and lube contain sugars that feed the harmful bacteria that can cause UTIs. Because of this, it is best to avoid flavored condoms and lube and instead opt for general forms.
What Else Can You Do to Prevent UTIs?
Women who have recurrent UTIs may benefit from taking a prescribed antibiotic after sex, which typically consists of a single dose. Women who are interested in this can discuss their frequent UTIs with their doctor.
Another recommendation for preventing UTIs is drinking plenty of water and urinating as soon as the need arises. Holding in your pee can create a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, so it is best to pee as soon as you feel the need to prevent this.
How to Treat a UTI?
When to See a Doctor?
Since untreated UTIs may turn into kidney infections, which are much more severe infections, it is best to see a doctor as soon as you develop any symptoms of a UTI to receive an antibiotic. An online doctor is a handy resource for obtaining an online prescription.
For those with chronic UTIs, your doctor can also discuss preventive measures and medication you can take to help prevent UTIs.
UTIs involve an infection of the urinary tract, typically due to a bacterial infection. Sex is a common cause of UTIs because the act of sex can introduce bacteria to the urethra, increasing the risk of infection.
In general, women are more likely to develop UTIs, especially during sex, due to their anatomy. Because of this, women are recommended to take preventive measures against UTIs, especially those who experience recurring UTIs. Actions such as urinating after sex and switching birth control can help to prevent these infections.
For those with a UTI, treatment typically involves an antibiotic, which can be obtained virtually through an online doctor.
- Fihn, S., Boyko, E., Normand, E., Chen, C., Grafton, J., & Hunt, M. et al. (1996). Association between Use of Spermicide-coated Condoms and Escherichia coli Urinary Tract infection in Young Women. American Journal Of Epidemiology, 144(5), 512-520. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a008958
- Al-Badr, A., & Al-Shaikh, G. (2013). Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women : A Review. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, 13(3), 359-367. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.12816/0003256
- Hooton, T., Fennell, C., Clark, A., & Stamm, W. (1991). Nonoxynol-9: Differential Antibacterial Activity and Enhancement of Bacterial Adherence to Vaginal Epithelial Cells. Journal Of Infectious Diseases, 164(6), 1216-1219. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/164.6.1216
- Albert, X., Huertas, I., Pereiro, I., Sanfélix, J., Gosalbes, V., & Perrotta, C. (2004). Antibiotics for preventing recurrent urinary tract infection in non-pregnant women. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd001209.pub2
- Mohiuddin, A. (2019). Lifestyle Issues and Prevention of Recurrent UTIs. Biomedical Journal of Scientific & Technical Research, 21(3), 15961-15965. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.26717/BJSTR.2019.21.003618
- Williams, G., & Craig, J. (2019). Long-term antibiotics for preventing recurrent urinary tract infection in children. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd001534.pub4