Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are fairly common, especially in women. The infection can impact any part of the urinary tract but typically affects the bladder and urethra.
Sex can sometimes irritate the area and exacerbate symptoms, so it’s not always safe to have sex with a UTI. Let’s dive into this question and explore some tips for having safe sex with a UTI.
It’s Not a Bad Idea
Urinary tract infections are obnoxious enough (we’re talking the incessant need to pee, burning sensation when you’re going and drinking sachets of Ural), but when they get in the way of your libido, it can feel like your whole world has come crashing down. For that reason, the question of can you have sex with a uti is one that’s probably burning a hole in your brain.
While it’s technically possible to have sex with a uti, doctors and sexual health services often advise patients to wait until they’re feeling better and the antibiotics have finished working. Sex can aggravate the infection, leading to more pain and discomfort. Plus, it’s not uncommon for sex to introduce new bacteria that could lead to another UTI or other sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia or trichomoniasis.
It’s also worth remembering that your urethra is quite close to the clitoris and vagina, so the friction of sex can cause irritation and make the symptoms of your UTI worse. That’s especially true if there’s heavy thrusting, adds Felice Gersh, MD, OB-GYN and author of PCOS SOS Fertility Fast Track.
It’s Not a Good Idea
UTIs are bacterial infections that can impact your urethra, bladder, and sometimes even your kidneys. They happen when bacteria (usually E. coli) from your skin or rectum enters the urethra and makes its way to the urinary tract, where it causes pain and irritation.
Although it is technically possible to have sex with a UTI, it’s not recommended. It may trigger a new infection and extend the length of your treatment. Moreover, it’s risky for your partner too. According to Healthline, having penetrative sex or receiving oral sex while you have a UTI can introduce bacteria into the urethra and move it up to the bladder. The urethra is also close to the clitoris and vagina, meaning that bacteria introduced during sexual activity can also irritate these areas.
The good news is that you can have sex after your symptoms subside. But it’s important to take precautions and follow the recommended guidelines. For example, if you’re having penetrative sex or are receiving oral sex, it’s best to use a dental dam to prevent the transfer of bacteria. It’s also a good idea to pee before and after sex and drink lots of water, which can help flush out the urethra and prevent it from becoming irritated. Finally, don’t forget to finish the entire course of antibiotics. This will prevent the bacterial infection from returning or spreading to other parts of your body.
It’s Not Safe
It’s not safe to have sex with a UTI because it can cause a recurrence of the infection. It can also irritate your urethra, making you feel worse after the sex and extending the time it takes to recover.
A UTI occurs when bacteria (often E coli) from your gastrointestinal tract (or your partner’s hands, mouth or skin) get into your urethra and travel to your bladder. Symptoms include painful urges to pee and burning sensations when you do. The infection can happen anywhere from your urethra to your kidneys, and women are more prone to it than men.
Having sex can push bacteria from the anus closer to your urethral opening, especially during penetrative sex like foreplay or oral sex. This can re-infect you or introduce new bacteria that may trigger an infection. In addition, your symptoms might feel worse after sex because of the inflammation that is part of the body’s response to the UTI.
Although having sex won’t break your urinary tract, it can make you uncomfortable and increase your symptoms, says Patricia A. Wallace, MD, a gynecologist and urologist at Providence Mission Hospital in Orange County, California. “Heavy thrusting and sexual intercourse put pressure on the vulva and can exacerbate symptoms,” she adds. It’s better to avoid sexual activity until you are feeling better and have completed your treatment plan.
It’s Not Comfortable
A urinary tract infection can cause pain, discomfort, and inflammation in the vulva. This can make vaginal sex less than enjoyable. And because the urethra is close to the clitoris and vagina, a penetrative act like oral sex or having someone touch your vulva can cause friction on the urethral opening. According to Healthline, this can irritate the tissues and aggravate your UTI symptoms.
Even if you and your partner use lubrication, the friction can still be irritating. Plus, if you’re using spermicides, they can increase irritation, as well. The urethra is also prone to irritation from other things, including sex, heavy thrusting, and certain positions, according to Healthline. And because it’s so irritated, you might find yourself needing to pee more often during sex, which can make the experience uncomfortable and lead to rashes and infections in other parts of your body.
So, the answer to can I have sex with a uti is yes. But it’s probably not something you want to do unless you and your partner are comfortable with the risk of additional bacterial infections. It’s best to wait until your UTI is clear and you have a full course of antibiotics. In the meantime, you can try anal sex or other forms of sexual touch that don’t involve the vulva to help keep the bacteria from getting in the wrong places.