Is Sex Off-Limits With a Urinary Tract Infection?

4 Ways to Have Fun With Your Partner While You’re Healing

It can seem like a long wait until it’s safe to have sex again — especially if you’re feeling better and already in the mood. But you don’t have to sleep in separate rooms or play Monopoly every night to pass the time. There are plenty of ways you can stay close and have fun — both in and out of the bedroom.

  • Let the tension build. It can actually be kind of fun withholding yourself from your partner. You can tease each other, kiss, and keep it rated PG. You’ll build up sexual tension so that when it’s safe for you to have sex, it may feel like your first time again.
  • Kiss and tell. Enjoy kissing each other. When the main event is off the menu, take time to just kiss. Talk about what you like in your partner and new things you want to try in bed as soon as you’re back in the game.
  • Be intimate without getting sexy. Being close to your partner isn’t just about sex or physical closeness. Intimacy is about a close emotional connection — sharing your deepest fears, your most embarrassing moments, your secrets that you don’t share with anyone. Spend time simply talking, cuddling, and getting to know each other in ways that no one else could.
  • Burn off your energy. You might be looking for ways to release pent-up energy, since you can’t do it in bed. Try some fun new activities together to pass the time and work out your sexual frustrations. Go for a hike or take a cooking class together.

Even if you can’t have sex, you can still enjoy each other’s company and stay satisfied while you let your body heal from a UTI.

Can You Have Sex with a UTI?

Photo: Giphy

If you have a UTI, your entire lady-part region probably hurts. Still, you might find yourself with the urge. But can you have sex with a UTI, or is it unsafe?

UTI 101

Just to clarify, “a UTI (urinary tract infection) is caused by bacteria (usually E. coli, sometimes other strains) that infects the urinary tract-urethra, bladder, even the kidneys,” says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City. “Many UTIs are caused by sexual activity because, for women, the urethra (where urine exits the bladder) is in close physical proximity to the anus/rectum (where you have a bowel movement), and this area is heavily colonized with bacteria. During thrusting of intercourse, this bacteria can contaminate and infect the bladder,” says Dr. Dweck. Yuck. (Psst, you know you’re interested: 12 Anal Sex Facts from an Insider)

The good news is, if you have a UTI, antibiotics will clear up the infection. Plus, there are preventative measures you can take to avoid UTIs in the future, such as peeing before and after sex, drinking plenty of fluids, and even exercise, says Dr. Dweck. (Here’s more on how to prevent UTIs.) But it’s always best to get checked by your gyno if you have recurrent UTIs or think you could be dealing with something else.

So, can you have sex with a UTI or not?

The simplest answer: It’s ok to have sex with a UTI, but you probably won’t like it.

You probably want to skip sex until the infection is totally gone, says Dr. Dweck. While there’s no real risk to your health (or your partner’s) by having sex with a UTI or having sex during UTI treatment, it’s probably going to hurt like hell. Engaging in intercourse could be anything from uncomfortable to downright painful, and it could even worsen some symptoms, says Dr. Dweck. (P.S. did you know a new sexual partner could mess with your vagina?)

“Physically, the bladder and urethra might be inflamed and very sensitive with a UTI, and the friction from intercourse or other sexual activity would surely aggravate these symptoms,” she says. You may experience increased feelings of pressure, sensitivity, and urgency to urinate if you have sex with a UTI, she adds.

With all that to deal with-plus the pain-just the thought of having sex with a UTI might be a total mood killer. Regardless, your best bet is to go to the doc, get an antibiotic (if needed), and wait until the coast is clear.

“Most people will feel better in 24 to 48 hours, but you should finish whatever course of treatment is recommended,” says Dr. Dweck. Plenty of fluids to “flush bacteria out” can also help. “There are also over-the-counter and prescription remedies that will help ease discomfort while waiting for treatment to take effect,” she says.

Bottom line: You should probably wait to have sex until you feel better. And let’s be honest, sex, when you’re not feeling 100 percent means less than stellar pleasure, anyway. (What is going to lead to amazing sex? This: The Best Sex Positions for Clitoral Stimulation)

  • By By Isadora Baum

Can I Have Sex When I Have A UTI? Because No One Wants To Wait That Long To Do It Again

The day after I returned from Electric Forest, a four day festival up in Northern Michigan, I knew something was wrong. I was peeing even more than normal — and I drink coffee and water all day every day, so I usually pee a lot. But that Monday, I was in and out of the bathroom pretty much every hour, which was not only uncomfortable but also annoying. The next day the pain started: a burning sensation when I peed that sometimes last for as long as 15 minutes after I finished. I knew then what was up. The not-so-sanitary conditions at the festival had led to a urinary tract infection, or UTI.

For those of you who are lucky enough to have never had one, UTIs are infections of — you guessed it! — your urinary tract and they’re caused by bacteria getting in what should really only be an out hole. Most UTIs are caused by fecal bacteria that got where it shouldn’t, either from someone’s fingers, wiping incorrectly (front to back, always, ladies!), or transfer during sex. Sometimes — like when you’re at a four day festival without real showers and using port a potties that run out of toilet paper, quickly — a whole bunch of factors converge and you end up with a painful, annoying infection.

Doctors will prescribed antibiotics for UTIs and, really, as soon as you start seeing signs you should head over to your GP (or hit up Planned Parenthood) and get the medicine but because I was raised by hippies, I hate antibiotics and try to avoid them at all costs possible. In the past, cranberry supplements have helped clear up my UTIs and even though the science is still kind of unclear about whether or not they work, I decided to go that route first.

A week later found me in the waiting room at Planned Parenthood, practically begging the doctor to just give me the damn drugs, already! The cranberry didn’t work and I was scheduled to fly to Japan in two days and I practically ran to the pharmacy to get my prescription filled. Drugs in hand, I was ready to take that UTI head-on.

While taking antibiotics and drinking lots of water are obvious when you have a UTI, less obvious is what you should/can be doing sexually while you’re recovering. For me, UTIs are so painful and gross that I’m not interested in anything else down there, even underwear. My vagina is closed for business until the medicine started kicking in and the pain subsided.

But when can you really start going at it again when you have a UTI?

While I think most women are probably like me and not so into vaginal intercourse (or oral or fingers or ANYTHING) while the pain is still present, it’s obviously up to you when you want to start getting busy again.

Some experts recommend that you wait until you’ve been symptom-free for two weeks, as the infection can come back during that time but, let’s be real: who really wants to wait that long with no nookie?

Other experts say that it’s fine to do it once the symptoms subside. Just be sure to pee after sex, keep drinking lots of water, and be extra careful about any butt to vagina action. (Which you really should be doing anyway, so that shouldn’t be too hard.) If the infection comes back, you’ve learned something about your body and should definitely wait the full two weeks after your new round of antibiotics flushes it out again.

Also, quick note: UTIs aren’t infectious, so you don’t have to worry about spreading them to your partner. However, they can be caused by STIs, so if you’re at all concerned that you may have contacted something, ask your doctor to test you when you go in for your antibiotics.

Images: Giphy (2); Pexels

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Having Sex While Recovering From A Urinary Tract Infection Can Cause Serious Pain And Discomfort


A lot of factors can contribute to a urinary tract infection, including stress, not practicing good hygiene, and hardly wearing breathable undergarments. Certain activities apparently worsen it, too.

Sex Aggravates UTI

Though there are ways to cure and prevent a UTI, having sex while still having the infection definitely won’t help. Yes, it’s normal for anyone to want to get intimate with their partner even at the most unexpected times, but one should hold off in instances of UTI simply because it is a bacterial infection in the bladder that has to be treated immediately.

According to Nicole Williams, founder of the Gynecology Institute of Chicago, having sex with your significant other with a UTI would only make matters worse as it could further irritate the infection.

“The bladder sits right above the vagina, and any pressure on it while it is infected could really hurt,” Williams stated.

Is UTI Contagious?

Williams makes it clear that having sex with an untreated UTI would not be the smartest idea, but women will be relieved to know that if they were to have intercourse with their partner, the infection would not be transmitted.

According to Jason S. James, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Baptist Hospital in Miami, it is normal for a female to think that she might have transferred a urinary tract infection to her other half. However, in reality it could potentially be a sexually transmitted disease as STDs have similar symptoms as UTI’s.

STDs remain contagious, so partners should always practice safe sex. James explained that STDs such as herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea share something in common with UTI: constant and painful urination.

Wait Until You Are Off Of Antibiotics

Normally, when a woman is confirmed to have a urinary tract infection, the doctor tests the woman’s urine and, depending on the results, would prescribe antibiotics with a specific length of time of taking them. This is why it would be best to wait until the prescribed antibiotics have been finished before a woman gets intimate with her significant other again.

In the meantime, there are several ways to enjoy each other’s company during the healing process, such as teasing each other by kissing, which build up the sexual tension, and working out together to release the sexual frustration.

Are Antibiotics Ruining Your Libido?

A decrease in libido is a natural part of aging, but in my gastroenterology (GI) practice, a lot of the women having bedroom issues are in their 20s and 30s.

Anatomically, your digestive tract and reproductive organs are next-door neighbors, but there’s an even more intimate relationship between the “below the belt organs” that supersedes their physical proximity to one another. It has to do with the microbiome—the trillions of bacteria that live in and on the human body, mostly in your gut but also in nooks and crannies like your genitals.

We’ve spent most of the last century figuring out how to eradicate our microbes, and we’re just now realizing that the vast majority are friends rather than foes that actually play a vital role in keeping us healthy. Gut bacteria help to digest our food, synthesize important vitamins that our bodies can’t make on their own, neutralize harmful compounds, and maintain the integrity of the gut lining so that nutrients can get into the body but toxins are kept out.

In the vagina, helpful Lactobacillus species produce acid that repels problematic bacteria, protecting us from sexually transmitted diseases and other infections (and keeping the fetus safe during pregnancy).

Most of the patients I see suffer from manifestations of an imbalanced microbiome—a condition known as dysbiosis. Some of the signs and symptoms are localized to the GI tract, like bloating and gas; but others, including yeast infections, brain fog, fatigue, rashes, joint pain, anxiety, food cravings, allergies, and autoimmune disorders, reflect the universal role our microbes play in preventing disease. And what’s more, a healthy, balanced microbiome is essential for a healthy, satisfying sex life.

By far, the most common risk factor for dysbiosis is overuse of antibiotics. Just five days of a broad-spectrum antibiotic can destroy up to one-third of your essential microbes—and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever all come back. Less desirable pathogenic bacteria and yeast species (which, as luck would have, it tend to be a lot hardier) quickly multiply to fill the void, bringing with them plenty of symptoms.

Many of the antibiotics being over-prescribed these days are for upper respiratory tract infections, and conservative estimates suggest that as many as half are unnecessary. But there’s another alarming, but hidden epidemic of dysbiosis that’s occurring, and it may be wreaking havoc on your sex life. It’s the common practice of taking antibiotics after intercourse to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

During sex, especially the more energetic kind, bacteria from the anus and groin can gain access to the bladder through the urethra, causing a temporary increase in microbial load that may result in inflammation—a condition called cystitis. (Honeymoon cystitis in the case of the newly coupled that may be experiencing more friction than usual down below). In fact, more than half of all UTIs in premenopausal women occur within 24 hours of having sex.

Depending on how sexually active you are, all those preventative doses of antibiotics can add up, depleting your friendly Lactobacillus population and replacing them with pathogenic microbes that can run amuck in your vagina, causing burning, itching, and pain with intercourse. To add insult to injury, some studies suggest that the rate of recurrent UTIs may actually be higher in women treated with antibiotics for urinary symptoms, versus those who are allowed to recover on their own—a more inconvenient option, but one that may ultimately save the day in terms of your microbial health and your libido.

Other helpful practices include drinking lots of water to flush the urinary system, emptying your bladder immediately after intercourse, avoiding spermicides and diaphragms that can trap bacteria, and taking D-mannose—a naturally occurring substance found in cranberries that can prevent pathogenic bacteria like E. coli from setting up shop in the bladder.

If you’ve been using antibiotics to prevent post-coital UTIs and you’re finding that sex is less enjoyable than it should be, your vaginal microbes might be in need of some rehab. I recommend a three-pronged approach of avoidance, encouragement and repopulation:

• Avoid antibiotics if at all possible.

• Encourage the growth of good bacteria by consuming prebiotics—high-fiber foods that literally feed your good bugs, like oats, artichokes, asparagus, garlic, lentils, and leeks. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi also increase the numbers of good bacteria, and staying away from sugary, starchy foods that encourage the growth of yeast species is a must.

• Repopulate your vagina with live bacteria in the form of a robust probiotic. Probiotics are taken orally in the form of a pill, powder, or liquid.

It may take some time before you see meaningful results, but this approach offers the possibility of real and lasting relief, rather than an antibiotic quick fix that ultimately ends up being ruinous to your sex life.

Spellberg also said people who used the drug this way would be exposing the bacteria they have in their gastro-intestinal tracts — their own gut flora — to regular doses of doxycycline. And those bacteria too could develop resistance to the drug, leading to a host of other health problems.

“You’re causing friendly fire injury,” he said.

The full picture of the knock-on effects of exposing your gut flora to antibiotics is still coming into focus, said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy and a leading voice on the dangers of mounting antibiotic resistance. He noted a recent report in the journal Science revealed that some cancer immunotherapy drugs worked less well in people who had recently taken antibiotics.

Molina noted that antibiotic resistance to doxycycline has not been seen in chlamydia or syphilis, despite the fact that the drug has been used to treat these infections for decades. Still, he said the possibility it could arise cannot be discounted.

A commentary published with the study argued that reducing infection rates in men who have sex with men and who are highly sexually active might lower STI infection rates more generally in a community.

Authors Christopher Fairley and Eric Chow, of Australia’s Melbourne Sexual Health Center at Monash University, said pressure from patients to be given doxycycline on a preventative basis might be substantial, given that the drug is also prescribed in six-month courses to treat acne. Like Molina and his co-authors, they said STI preventive use at this point is premature.

Laxminarayan did not dismiss the notion of this type of use out of hand, however. “I certainly think that for a small subset of the population, if this helps prevent syphilis, then it certainly is worth exploring further,” he said.

But he said additional studies should be conducted first to try to get a better picture of the potential consequences of using doxycycline this way, including the risk of resistance developing, the potential that it might further erode condom use, and any other unintended consequences.

Things like UTIs and Yeast Infections can be awkward topics to bring up with a significant other, but you need to take care of your health and wellness. Here’s how they happen and what you should do.

Dr. Prudence Hall, a gynecologist and surgeon at The Hall Center in Santa Monica, Caif, tells “Urinary tract infections cause burning with urination, more frequent urination, and the sensation of needing to urinate immediately. They hurt a lot and it’s hard to mistake those symptoms. If you have had unprotected sex with a new partner, it is important to see your primary care doctor and get an STD panel, as well as a urinalysis and urine culture. Chlamydia, ureaplasma and gonorrhea can all cause symptoms similar to a UTI. If you’re sure you are in an exclusive, committed relationship and have these symptoms, immediately start drinking 10 or more glasses of water per day and begin an over the counter d-mannose (3,000mg – 5,000 per day is the correct dosage, divided in 4 doses throughout the day) and cranberry extract.”

HOW DOES ONE GET A UTI? “UTIs occur when women become dehydrated, have sex, and by not urinating frequently enough. To prevent a UTI from occurring, urinate after sex and drink a glass of water, which will help rinse out any bacteria that may have been pushed into your bladder during sex. If you are prone to UTIs, take 2000 mg of d-mannose after sex and again in 4-8 hours. That greatly decreases the incidence of post sex UTIs. Trying different sexual positions can also help identify which ones increase your UTIs the most. For example, the “missionary” — (man on top) seems to cause the most problems.” She continues, “A UTI can progress to a kidney infection when treatment is delayed. If your bladder symptoms are accompanied by fever, mid-back pain or more than mild bladder distress, see your doctor for treatment right away.”

IF YOU HAVE A UTI, DON’T HAVE SEX. “Part of the reason women get UTIs is that sex pushes bacteria into the urethra that drains the bladder. Having sex while at the height of a bladder infection can exacerbate the infection. It is recommended to abstain from intercourse at least until the pain is gone, or even better, for two days after the pain has subsided.”

It can be awkward to bring it up, but it’s best to be honest and straight forward. There is nothing wrong with getting a UTI — they are extremely common and it has nothing to do with your partner’s “performance.” Reassuring the guy it’s not his “fault” and that you just need a few days to recover should put you both at least.

HollywoodLifers, have you ever had a UTI?

UTI: The Sexually Transmitted Infection Few Mention

It goes by different names: bladder or urinary tract infection, UTI, and cystitis (“cyst” from the Greek for bladder). It occurs mostly in women, and causes urinary urgency—I have to go now—usually with burning pain on urination, possibly lower abdominal pain, and sometimes fever. It may recur, with many women suffering several a year. And it’s closely related to lovemaking.

Women often develop UTIs shortly after intercourse, and may blame their partners—often with good reason. This can drive a wedge between lovers, with women avoiding sex to evade infection, and men wondering what they did wrong. Fortunately, with minor sexual adjustments, most UTIs can be prevented.

The cause of most UTIs is intestinal bacteria, typically Escherichia coli (E. coli). These bugs aid in digestion, but if they attach to women’s bladders, they cause UTI.

During digestion, E. coli become incorporated into stool. Even with careful wiping, some remain around the anus. Vigorous or careless lovemaking can move them the few inches to women’s urethras, where they may work their way into the bladder.

Bladder infections can strike men as well as women, but women are more susceptible. Their anuses and urethral openings are much closer than men’s, and without penises, their urethras are considerably shorter. In addition, moisture promotes bacterial transit from the anal area to the urethra. Women who self-lubricate copiously are at increased risk.

Prevention: What Women Can Do—Especially If Prone to Recurrent UTIs

• When you feel the urge to urinate, go. Urination flushes out bacteria before they can climb into the bladder. Holding urine raises UTI risk. Even if you don’t feel the urge, if you’re prone to UTI, go every hour or two. And be sure to go shortly before and after sex.

• Wipe from front to back, away from your urethra. Never wipe from back to front, which moves E. coli toward the urethra.

• Avoid external irritants. Use a mild unscented soap, such as Ivory. Avoid perfumed and deodorant soaps, and bubble baths, which may irritate the urethra. Wear cotton underwear, which traps less moisture than synthetics. Stay away from tight-fitting clothing, for example, leotards. Their rubbing can move bacteria toward the urethra.

• Avoid internal irritants. Some evidence suggests that cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine (in coffee, tea, many soft drinks, and some over-the-counter drugs) may increase UTI risk. If you suffer recurrent UTIs, experiment with reducing your intake or eliminating them.

• Go with your flow. During menstruation, change tampons or pads often. Blood is an excellent bacterial growth medium.

• Reconsider birth control. Compared with women who use other contraceptives, diaphragm users are at increased risk for UTI. It’s not entirely clear why, but if you use a diaphragm and suffer recurrent bladder infections, consider switching methods.

• As women become menopausal, the chemical environment of the genitals changes. This may allow E. coli to enter the urethra more easily. To reduce this risk, try an estrogen cream. And eat more soy foods: tofu and textured vegetable protein, used in many meat substitutes.

• Drink cranberry juice and eat dried cranberries. During the 1840s, German researchers discovered that people who eat cranberries pass a bacteria-fighting chemical, hippuric acid, in their urine. Sixty years later, American researchers speculated that urine acidified by cranberries might prevent UTIs. But by the late 1960s, nay-sayers showed that the tart berries don’t acidify urine sufficiently to prevent UTIs.

Meanwhile, two dozen studies have investigated cranberry for UTI prevention, and the substantial majority show significant preventive action. Cranberries may not acidify urine, but they add compounds to it that deter E. coli from adhering to the bladder wall, reducing their ability to cause infection.

Drink cranberry juice cocktail, a glass or two daily. Snack on dried cranberries (Craisins). Cook with the berries. Recipes abound. (I love cranberry-nut bread.) Or take a concentrated extract in pill form, available where supplements are sold. Whichever form you use, have some cranberries before and after lovemaking.

• Try probiotics. One possible reason E. coli can invade the bladder is that women’s vaginas may lack healthful (“probiotic”) bacteria that keep the nasty ones in check. One way to support friendly bacteria is to eat yogurt containing a live-culture of Lactobacillus acidophilus. Probiotic bacteria supplements are also available.

Prevention: What Men Can Do—Especially If Lovers Are Prone to UTI

• Be gentle during intercourse. Back when premarital sex was less common, newlyweds spent their honeymoons doing the horizontal tango, often so frequently and vigorously that many brides developed UTIs. The condition was called “honeymoon cystitis.” Vigorous intercourse can irritate the urethra, increasing the risk of UTI. Do the deed gently.

• Make love hygienically. Honeymoon cystitis was rampant for another reason. Many newlyweds were uninformed about sexual hygiene. Anal play—sphincter massage, shallow fingering, and intercourse—is more popular than many believe. While anal intercourse is rare (about 2 percent of couples) and regular anal play in other ways isn’t very common, still, around 40 percent of couples have experimented with backdoor sex at least once. If you play that way: Shower before sex. Wash both of your anal areas with soap. During lovemaking, nothing that touches either lover’s anal area should come in contact with the woman’s vulva. Keep close track of where your fingers and sex toys have been.

• Sex with less intercourse. Some women have sex gently with perfect hygiene, but have the misfortune to be prone to UTIs. Try de-emphasizing vaginal intercourse, and moving more toward sex based on hand jobs, oral, toys, and perhaps a bit of kink.

• The condom connection. A study of 1,200 Seattle women showed that UTI risk increased for those whose lovers wore spermicide-coated condoms. If you use condoms and she suffers recurrent UTIs, consider no-spermicide brands or another method.


• At the first twinge of infection, immediately start drinking lots of water or cranberry juice—10 cups a day. You may be able to flush the bacteria out of your bladder before they become established firmly enough to cause a full-blown infection.

• Immediately increase consumption of dried cranberries or extract.

• See your doctor for antibiotics, and take the entire course—even if you feel better before you finish the pills.

• Talk about it. Recurrent, sex-related UTIs can drive a wedge between lovers. But working together to prevent them can increase intimacy and enhance your relationship.

Sex with UTI: Yes or No?

Can you have sex with a UTI? The short answer? No. The long answer? Yes and no, depending on how much risk you are willing to take. Are you willing to risk getting a second UTI while you’re still combatting the first one? Or are you willing to risk irritating your urethra and feeling worse after sex?

For the next few minutes, let us weigh the pros and cons of having sex with a UTI, find out more about what caused UTI, and learn about how to prevent UTI.

What is UTI?

UTI is short for urinary tract infection. It is extremely common and accounts for 25% of all infections. The urinary tract refers to all the body parts involved in urine production and release, which includes, in descending order:

  1. Kidneys—two bean-shaped organs located below your ribcage that filter blood to produce urine
  2. Ureters—two tubes that connect each kidney to the bladder, allowing urine to drain into the bladder
  3. Bladder—a muscular sac in the pelvis that relaxes to retain urine, or contracts to void urine
  4. Urethra—the tube that connects the bladder to where urine drains out of the body at either the head of the penis or in front of the vagina between the labia minora.

An infection that occurs at any point in the urinary tract is a UTI. The most common form of UTI is the infection of the urethra and bladder. This is considered to be a lower UTI and is usually easily cured by antibiotics. However, if the infection travels up to the kidneys through the ureters, a kidney infection can trigger a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.

Symptoms of UTI

Lower UTI (bladder and urethra):

  • Frequent urination
  • Cloudy, bloody, dark, and/or foul-smelling urine
  • Pain and burning during urination
  • Abnormal urethral discharge
  • Pelvic pain and pressure

Kidney Infection:

  • Pain in the upper back or the sides of the body
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

If you experience the above symptoms, you should see your doctor to get diagnosed and treated. If you have a high fever, and severe pain, chills, and vomiting, you should go to the emergency room.

What caused UTI, and why are women more at risk?

A UTI is commonly caused by bacteria, but can also be caused by viruses or fungus. Around 50% to 60% of women will get UTIs in their lifetimes.

Compared to men, women are more likely to get a UTI because of their shorter urethras, allowing bacteria to easily travel up to the bladder. A woman’s urethral opening is also close to the vagina and the anus. E. coli from the colon can migrate from the anus to the urethra opening during sexual activities or when a woman wipes from back to front after going to the toilet.

Other germs can also enter the urethra during sex. Although UTI is not a sexually transmitted infection, other STIs like herpes, gonorrhea, mycoplasma or chlamydia on the person’s or their partner’s genitals can infect the urethra, causing a UTI.

UTI and sex

Sex is a major risk factor for UTI. All the motions during sexual activity can easily push germs from either partners’ genital or anal areas into the urethra.

Around 80 percent of premenopausal women have had sex 24 hours before developing a UTI.

Sexually active women are more likely to get a UTI than non-sexually active women. Frequent intercourse increases the risk of UTI and so does using certain birth control methods like diaphragms, non-lubricated condoms, or condoms with spermicide.

Some women are more predisposed to UTI and can develop a UTI every time they have sex.

So should you have sex with a UTI?

During the initial stages of UTI, you may not be in the mood due to uncomfortable symptoms. But after a few days of antibiotic treatment, the symptoms have subsided and you are wondering if you can safely participate in sexual activities.

Turns out, the answer is not a simple yes or no. Different sources have given different answers, and what kind of sex act you engage in matters too.

Healthline has recommended people to abstain from sex until all UTI symptoms are cleared for 2 weeks, because:

  1. penetration of the vagina can put pressure on the neighboring urethra and bladder, irritating them and making UTI symptoms worse;
  2. sexual intercourse can introduce new bacteria into the urinary tract, leading to a second UTI and longer recovery time;
  3. the force of penetrative sex can push bacteria further up the urinary tract.

Also, Healthline advises people to not receive oral sex without a dental dam because bacteria can pass into their partner’s mouth.

Although Healthline gives a firm no, Self gives a tentative yes. They interviewed Lauren Streicher, M.D., who says the chance of getting a second UTI is slim when you’re already on antibiotics, so you don’t need to abstain from sex. Nonetheless, Self still notes that there is a risk of sex agitating UTI symptoms.

At the end of the day, whether or not to have sex with a UTI is your decision. If you want to be absolutely safe, have no penetrative sex or receive oral sex until two weeks after all symptoms are cleared.

But if you still want to have sex, here are some tips to decrease the risk for UTI, either right after sexual intercourse or in general.

Ways to Prevent UTI

  • Urinate after sex to push bacteria out
  • Clean both you and your partner’s genital and anal areas before sex and clean your own genitals after sex
  • Do not change orifices (anus to vagina) during sex without proper cleansing
  • Drink plenty of water and don’t hold urine in
  • For women, wipe carefully from front to back after going to the toilet
  • Avoid douches, scented wipes, and scented feminine products
  • Avoid using diaphragms, pre-lubricated condoms, or spermicide condoms
  • Avoid prolonged dampness in the groin area by wearing loose-fitting, breathable underpants and pants
  • Treat urinary retention promptly since retained urine increases the chance of bladder infection
  • If you use an intermittent catheter, make sure to practice hygienic self-catheterization techniques.

If you are a catheter user, is it bad to have sex with a UTI?

If you self-catheterize, your chances of getting a UTI is already higher than others because of your pre-existing condition of urinary retention, and because UTI is already one of the most common catheter complications.

If you have severe urinary retention, after sex, you wouldn’t be able to flush bacteria out by urinating. Instead, when you self-catheterize, you can push the bacteria deeper in. Additionally, the catheter may further irritate your urethra and bladder after they’ve already been irritated by sex.

Therefore, if you already use a catheter, you should consider abstaining from sex until your symptoms are fully cleared for two weeks and also consult your doctor on the best course of action to prevent future UTIs.

If you are concerned about frequent UTIs

If you experience recurrent UTIs and irritation as the result of catheterization, you should check out CompactCath.

CompactCath catheters are pre-lubricated with silicone oil which was found by multiple studies (studies 1, 2, 3) to have anti-microbial properties, meaning it kills bacteria, fungus, and viruses. It is the only catheter company on the market that uses silicone oil as a lubricant.

Additionally, CompactCath’s catheters are super-compact, light, and drip-free; they fit discreetly into your back pocket, purse, and carry-on luggage.

Although our customers have self-reported having fewer UTIs since switching to CompactCath, using CompactCath does not guarantee that you would not get a UTI, nor has it been clinically proven to lower the risk of UTI.

Emerged out of Stanford as the brainchild of a team of physicians, mechanical engineers, and MBAs, CompactCath is FDA-cleared in 2014, holds six patents, covered by CNN Money, won two grants (BioDesign Spectrum grant, LPCH Pediatric Innovation grant) and two iF product design awards (2016, 2017).

Try CompactCath for FREE to see if it helps with your frequent UTI!

Please note that this article is not and does not substitute formal medical advice. CompactCath catheters are not clinically proven to lower the risk of UTI, though CompactCath customers have self-reported fewer incidents of infections.

Why What You Thought About UTIs and Sex is Probably Wrong

By Dr. Allison Hill, OB/GYN.

We’ve all heard the jokes about contracting a urinary tract infection (UTI) after having sex. Sure, they can be funny, but they’re actually perpetuating a myth that many of us have believed our entire lives: As soon as you are sexually active, here come the UTIs.

It’s not a complete myth: increased sexual activity is in fact one of the top reasons women contract UTIs. In fact, UTIs were regularly referred to as “honeymoon cystitis” – another name for a bladder infection – because of how often they occur after honeymoons where women are having sex more frequently.

But what isn’t true is that sexual activity itself directly causes a UTI, or that there’s a 100 percent chance you’ll contract one. There’s no research that support either claim.

What’s actually happening is that when you have sex, bacteria on the skin is pushed into the urethra and travels into the bladder, causing a UTI. Because the female urethra is short (about 2 ½”), women are more prone to these infections than men. There are two other factors that may increase your chances of a post-coital infection: you simply happen to be more prone to UTIs, or you don’t have a strong enough urine stream to flush the bacteria out of the bladder.

Also, it has been proven that certain types of contraception like diaphragms or spermicides can increase the probability of getting the infection. These contraceptive methods aggravate the sensitive tissue in the vaginal areas in women. This irritated tissue creates an atmosphere where bacteria thrives, thus increasing the likelihood of a UTI. Unfortunately, some women don’t even know that the contraceptives are causing these issues, which is why you should talk to your doctor if you notice that something is off.

You cannot “catch” a UTI from someone else. If you’re thinking of having sex, wait until your symptoms subside so you’re comfortable and aren’t in excruciating pain. But if you absolutely can’t wait, then think about taking it slow and steady and opting for positions that aren’t directly angled at your bladder.

While contracting a UTI is generally out of your control, there are certain measures you can take before and after sex to reduce your risk:

  • Urinate before and immediately after sex to flush out your bladder
  • Clean your genital and anal areas before and after sex
  • Always ensure you’re hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day; this will flush the bacteria out of your urinary tract
  • Take a probiotic containing Lactobacillus acidophilus to keep your vaginal flora balanced
  • If possible, opt for other forms of birth control instead of a diaphragm or spermicides
  • Wipe from front to back to keep unnecessary bacteria away from your urethra
  • Take a prescribed antibiotic after intercourse (but make sure you speak with your doctor first)
  • Check out your urine – if it’s pink or red, it may be a sign of a UTI and you should call your doctor
  • Add a product like Cystex Liquid Cranberry Complex into your daily routine as it’s formulated with multiple powerhouse ingredients to help maintain urinary tract health

Let’s stop perpetuating the myth that sex is always to blame for UTIs. It’s damaging to our emotional and mental well-being and just plain inaccurate. We need to make a concerted effort to normalize urinary tract infections and help women understand UTI facts versus fiction, especially when it comes to sex.

*Data from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur in any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters (two tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), and the urethra (the tube from which urine exits the body).

Symptoms of UTIs include trouble urinating, pain or a burning sensation when urinating, cloudy or discolored urine, back pain, and lower abdominal pain.

UTIs are more common in women than in men. They are also more common in sexually-active women. Risk increases when a woman has sex with a new partner and when she has many sex partners.

A woman’s anatomy makes her more susceptible to UTIs. Her urethra is close to her vagina and anus. It is also short, about an inch and a half (3.8 centimeters) long. Bacteria transmitted through sex do not have far to go to reach the urethra. And once in the urethra, they can quickly travel to the bladder.

Two birth control methods – diaphragms and spermicides – can increase a woman’s UTI risk. Because of the diaphragm’s placement in the vagina, urine and bacteria can remain. Spermicides can kill bacteria that protect the vagina from infection, making it easier for bacteria to grow.

In addition, sexually-transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, can cause infection in the urethra (urethritis).

To reduce the risk, women are advised to:

• Urinate before and after sex.
• Drink lots of water so that bacteria will leave the body with urine.
• Avoid using a diaphragm and/or spermicide.
• Use lubricated condoms to reduce irritation during sex.
• Always practice safer sex. Discuss STDs and sexual histories with new partners and use condoms during all sexual activities.

Both men and women should always thoroughly clean their genitals before and after sex.

Women who think they might have a UTI should see their doctor. UTIs can usually be treated with antibiotics.

Women who are recovering from a urinary tract infection should wait until the infection has cleared (and all antibiotics are taken) before having sex again. This might take two weeks. Having sex during treatment may be painful and can irritate the healing tissue.

Can You Have Sex With A UTI? Doctors Suggest Proceeding With Caution

There are lots of great things about the honeymoon phase of a relationship. When you’re newly in love, everything is fresh and exciting. And, of course, there’s all that sex. You just can’t keep your hands (and other body parts) off each other! But there is another thing that’s really common during the honeymoon phase, and that’s our good friend, the UTI. (I’m kidding, obvi.) Urinary tract infections are the worst, but since you’re still in the honeymoon phase, you may be wondering — can you have sex with a UTI? Or do you have to wait for treatment before you can get it on again? Because sometimes, you just really don’t want to wait! To answer that question, I reached out to experts to see if it’s OK to be sexually active with a UTI and, if so, what precautions you should take.

But why do you get UTIs from sex in the first place? According to Everyday Health, women are more prone to UTIs because “the way a woman’s body is put together creates a perfect setup for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.” This is due to our short urethra (as opposed to the bodies of people with penises), which allows the bacteria to more easily reach the bladder. Bummer. During sex, your urethra is exposed to bacteria from the genital area, which can result in an infection. In fact, “almost 80 percent of women with a UTI have had sex within the last 24 hours.”


So, it makes sense that the more sex you’re having, the more likely you are to develop a UTI. But does that mean you have to stop having sex while you get treatment? The answer, according to gynecologist and surgeon Dr. Prudence Hall, is that, “You can make love any time you want, but it’s not recommended.” She explains it may not be the best idea because it could potentially worsen the situation, since “more bacteria would be forced into the bladder and then inflame the bladder.”

Dr. Sheila Loanzon, obstetrician and gynecologist,adds that it simply may be too uncomfortable to have sex while you have a UTI. She says that “there is no medical contraindication to being sexually active while a UTI is present,” but it’s more about how mild or severe the symptoms are. “When someone has a UTI, there may be generalized low-midline pelvic pressure, pelvic pain, urinary urgency or frequency, back pain, fatigue, and a sense of not feeling well,” says Dr. Loanzon. “Intercourse with a UTI can add pressure and discomfort, so it may be better to rest and wait until the infection is gone completely (i.e., finish the full course of antibiotics first before sexual activity).”


If you suspect you have a UTI, Dr. Hall advises to “immediately start taking 3,000 to 5,000 mg a day of D’Mannose. There are no side effects to it, and it can help.” You should then seek out medical attention.

“It is best to contact your health care provider if you feel symptoms of a UTI,” says Dr. Loanzon. She also explains, “The provider may request a urine test to confirm, or give antibiotics based on symptoms.”

This is also important because, as Rachel Gelman, DPT Director of the San Francisco Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center, explains, “It is important to note that some symptoms of a UTI can actually be due to other causes that are not an infection, such as pelvic floor dysfunction or a hormonal imbalance, to name a few. So it is important to see a medical provider to determine the cause of symptoms and start an appropriate treatment plan.”


If all that sounds a bit scary, the good news is there are some things you can do to help prevent a UTI to begin with. According to Everyday Health, you should always pee before and after sex, stay hydrated to rid your urinary tract of bacteria, clean your genital area after sex, and use a different form of birth control than a diaphragm or spermicide as they may actually trap the bacteria near the urethra and increase your chance of developing a UTI — and no one wants that.

So, ultimately, the answer to whether or not you should be getting freaky with a UTI is yes (if you’re feeling up for it), but proceed with caution. Don’t feel pressure to have sex if it makes you feel uncomfortable and seek out medical care ASAP so you can clear it up as quickly as possible and get back to doing what you enjoy most. (Aka, your partner.)

Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!

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