Can Sperm Cause a UTI?

Sperm can’t cause a UTI as it does not contain UTI-causing bacteria. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria such as E. coli, entering the urethra and traveling up to the bladder.

While sperm itself can’t cause a UTI, sexual activity can increase the risk of developing a UTI. This is because, during sexual intercourse, bacteria from the genital area can be pushed into the urethra. Also, some types of birth control methods like diaphragms and spermicide can increase the chances of getting a UTI.

Key takeaways:

  • Sperm does not cause UTIs
  • UTIs are caused by bacteria such as E. coli entering the urethra
  • Sperm does not contain UTI-causing bacteria
  • Sexual activity can increase the risk of developing a UTI

Continue reading to find out more about UTIs, the relationship between sperm and UTIs, as well as ways to reduce your risk of developing a UTI.

Table of Contents

Can Sperm Cause Urinary Tract Infections?

First and foremost, sperm cells do not contain UTI-causing bacteria. Instead, in as many as 90% of cases, UTIs are caused by E. coli. The pathogen is present in up to 95% of primary UTIs and 84% of recurrent sex-induced cystitis (SIC).

While e.coli isn’t present in sperm cells, it should be noted that sperm will travel down the same route as urine. So, if a male has a UTI, it is possible for them to pass the bacteria into the woman’s vagina. In reality, though, the risks linked specifically to this situation are minimal.

If asking whether you can have sex with a UTI, the answer is yes. However, males with symptomatic UTIs are likely to experience pain during ejaculation and probably won’t want to be sexually active until they have been on antibiotics for at least 72 hours. Moreover, the number of active pathogens in the urethra and bladder will be low even after one day of antibiotics.

What Causes UTIs?

Given that sperm isn’t the cause of UTIs despite the heightened risks posed by sex, the next thing you’ll want to wonder is what causes pathogens to enter the urinary tract. UTIs are responsible for 8.1 million medical appointments and millions of those can be attributed at least partly to the increased risks of having sex. Rather than sperm, the most common issues are detailed below:

Birth Control

While they are thought of as something that prevents the transfer of bodily fluids, condoms can contribute to UTIs. Condoms that feature spermicide will disrupt the vaginal microbial balance, which disrupts its natural ability to fend off bacterial infections.

Many other factors contribute to the risks, such as the distance between the urethra and vagina. Nevertheless, the fact that condoms and other birth control options could impact your vaginal flora should not be ignored.

Movements

Even if you are particularly hygienic, there will be bacteria near the anus. The physical movements caused by sex enable the bacteria to move more freely and this may lead to infections in the lower urinary tract. In particular, bacteria can move up the urinary tract, which highlights why acute cystitis incidence is 0.5 to 0.7 per person-year.

While using lube can prevent bacterial colonies from growing, it is also shown to disrupt the vaginal flora. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prevent movements during sex, which is why bacteria from the woman’s anus is a bigger issue than the man’s urinary tract.

Sexual Activities

Although you can’t do much to stop movements during sex, you can reduce the risks by avoiding sexual habits that introduce bacteria to the vagina. It is shown that saliva can cause UTIs, which is why you must take care if your partner has a known UTI. Meanwhile, moving from anal penetration to vaginal penetration could cause major problems.

The notion of protecting the vaginal flora is still in its relative infancy. However, it is clear that careful consideration before and during sex can support the body’s defense systems. If using toys, they should not be shared as this can introduce bacteria too.

What Can You Do to Prevent UTIs?

It is impossible to reduce the threat of UTIs, both sexually and non-sexually linked. However, this guide to preventing UTIs after sex can help. Ultimately, it focuses on removing UTI-causing bacteria from the urinary tract and vaginal area while also supporting healthy vaginal flora. These are key objectives when hoping to prevent UTIs in daily life too. Some of the most important steps include;

  • Stop using diaphragms as a birth control method,
  • Drink more water so that your body flushes bacteria before they climb the urinary tract,
  • Drink cranberry juice,
  • Wipe from front to back as the reverse operation allows bacteria to migrate from the anus to the vagina,
  • Stop using scented vaginal cleaning products that harm your vaginal flora.

It may not be necessary to make dramatic lifestyle changes after a single UTI. However, repeated infections would suggest that you are prone to them and will benefit from implementing new ideas to consciously prevent them.

When to See a Doctor?

UTIs are often relatively harmless and can resolve themselves without medical care, especially if you do not notice the symptoms. However, when symptoms do surface, it can cause a lot of discomfort. Worse still, an infection that spreads to the kidneys could be debilitating until you’ve completed treatment. Given that the most common solution is a course of antibiotics, an online doctor can be the most efficient solution while it also avoids any embarrassment of speaking to your general practitioner.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may wish to consider seeking medical support;

  • Pain in the stomach or back, under the kidneys,
  • Cloudy, dark urine or blood in your pee,
  • High or low temperature,
  • Burning sensations when you urinate, 
  • A noticeable change in peeing habits, especially at night.

UTIs can also be experienced in pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. Left untreated, this can cause discomfort for the mother and complications for the fetus. If you have a suspected UTI during pregnancy, it’s important to see a doctor ASAP.

How Can DrHouse Help You?

DrHouse can help diagnose and treat your urinary tract infection quickly. We offer on-demand virtual video appointments 24-7.  With the DrHouse telehealth app, you can conveniently see a doctor from the comfort and safety of your home.

Our doctors will examine your symptoms, provide treatment, suggest lifestyle changes, and answer any questions you might have. Also, our experienced doctors can provide prescriptions, if necessary, which you can collect from your nearest pharmacy.

Get started with DrHouse now and get connected with an online doctor today! 

In Conclusion

While UTIs are not directly caused by sperm, sex is a leading contributor to allowing pathogens like E.coli to enter the vagina. By taking the right precautions, it is possible to reduce the risks of developing a UTI. Yet, UTIs are not simply a sign of poor hygiene and you cannot eliminate them entirely.

Sources:

  • Parveen, K., Momen, A., Begum, A. A., & Begum, M. (2012). Prevalence Of Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy. Journal of Dhaka National Medical College &Amp; Hospital, 17(2), 8–12. https://doi.org/10.3329/jdnmch.v17i2.12200.
  • Sobel, J.D. Is there a protective role for vaginal flora?. Curr Infect Dis Rep 1, 379–383 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11908-999-0045-z.
  • Kalpana Gupta, Barbara Trautner, Deborah Cotton, et al; Urinary Tract Infection. Ann Intern Med.2012;156:ITC3-1. [Epub 6 March 2012]. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-156-5-201203060-01003.
  • Carol A. Kemper, Peroneal Anatomy and UTIs in Women, Hooton TM, et al. Clin Infect Dis 1999;29:1600-1601.
  • Pallavi Sahare, Archana Moon , GB Shinde;In Vitro Phytochemical Analysis for Combating Urinary Tract Infection with Andrographis Paniculata; Journal of Pharmaceutical, Chemical and Biological Sciences ISSN: 2348-7658 Jun-August 2014; 2(2):93-103.
  • Lixin Zhang, Betsy Foxman. Molecular epidemiology of Escherichia coli mediated urinary tract infections. Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2003, 8(5), 235–244. https://doi.org/10.2741/1007.
  • Moore EE, Hawes SE, Scholes D, Boyko EJ, Hughes JP, Fihn SD. Sexual intercourse and risk of symptomatic urinary tract infection in post-menopausal women. J Gen Intern Med. 2008 May;23(5):595-9. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1007/s11606-008-0535-y. Epub 2008 Feb 12. PMID: 18266044; PMCID: PMC2324148.

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

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