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.
If you’re not sure of whether or not you have a UTI, you can get tested at home with UTI test strips.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Some studies have found that taking cranberry supplements, but not drinking cranberry juice, can lower your chance of getting a UTI. Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), which can impede the bacteria’s ability to stick to the bladder lining, thus decreasing the chance of an infection. Cranberry capsules work instead of juice because capsules are highly concentrated whereas juice is not.
Other ways to prevent UTI include:
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.
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:
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.
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.