Can you have sex with a UTI? Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is one of the most widespread infections impacting women. 6 out of every 10 women can expect to experience a UTI at some point in their lifetime. In addition, approximately 25% of those who experience a UTI will suffer through one or more repeat infections.
What Is A UTI?
A UTI results from an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in one or more structures that make up the urinary system. While generally not life-threatening, if left untreated, the bacteria from the urinary system can travel to the bladder or kidneys, leading to more severe illness or a kidney infection.
Common UTI Symptoms
While symptoms may vary in scope and severity from individual to individual, the first sign most patients note is an intense burning sensation when urinating. This early symptom generally quickly progresses to experiencing a frequent need to urinate while producing only small amounts of urine. In addition, patients may develop a fever and lower back pain as the infection progresses.
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Can You Have Sex With A UTI?
While it is certainly possible to have sexual intercourse while suffering from a UTI, it is not generally advisable. A UTI can cause irritation, tenderness, and pain throughout the pelvic region.
So, can you have sex with a UTI? Sexual intercourse is likely to exacerbate these symptoms leading to increased irritation and discomfort.
Reasons Why You Should Not Have Sex With UTI
Beyond the potential for increased discomfort, several additional factors lead experts to recommend holding off on sexual intercourse until your urinary tract infection symptoms have fully resolved.
There are some top reasons you may want to wait to resume sexual activity until you have completed your UTI treatment and your UTI has entirely resolved.
Sexual activity is one of the most typical ways to introduce foreign bacteria to the vaginal area. UTI patients already suffer from an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, and the immune system is working hard to combat that infection. This is similar to a yeast infection.
Introducing new bacteria to the vaginal area creates more work for the immune system and may slow or reverse the healing process.
Additionally, irritated and inflamed tissue is more prone to damage which could allow harmful new bacteria to enter the body.
Being sexually active and other types of intimate activity can spread the infection- causing bacteria to other vulnerable areas of your or your partner’s bodies leading to secondary infections. This leads to a common question, “Can urinary tract infections be transmitted to a sexual partner during intercourse?”
Can UTI Be Transmitted Through Sex?
Technically speaking, a UTI is not considered a contagious illness and does not meet the definition of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). That being said, it is possible to spread the bacteria responsible for causing the UTI between partners during sexual intercourse or other intimate activity. Therefore, while exposing your partner to this bacteria may not cause your partner to develop a UTI, they may develop an infection.
How Can You Prevent UTIs From Sex?
You can significantly reduce your chances of contracting a UTI from sexual activity if you follow a few essential hygiene tips.
One of the effective ways to stave off a possible UTI infection is to head to the bathroom to urinate immediately following sexual activity. Urine is generally very inhospitable to most bacteria. The physical flow of urine, combined with its natural anti-bacterial properties, can help flush out any bacteria that may have gotten into the urethra.
Make it a habit to urinate immediately after sexual activity, whether you feel the urge or not. Even a small amount of urine passing through the urethra will help to dislodge potentially harmful bacteria and reduce your chances of contracting a UTI.
Consider showering as soon as possible after sexual activity. This one is just pure common sense. The sooner you can wash away any errant, possibly harmful bacteria, the less likely you will contract an infection. While a bath may provide some of the same benefits, showering is better.
Soaking in a tub may allow potentially harmful bacteria to travel further into the body’s orifices.
Avoid Cross Contamination
Take care to avoid spreading bacteria from the anal area to the vaginal area. There is a much larger population of potentially harmful bacteria around the anus. If these bacteria are transferred to the vagina or urethra, they can easily cause infection.
Can You Have Sex With A UTI: Tips
Sexual activity during an active UTI is not recommended; however, if you must resume sexual activity, you can undertake steps to make the act more comfortable and safer for you and your partner.
Experiment With New Positions
An active UTI can cause mild to moderate pain and discomfort in the pelvic region. Patients may find that more traditional sexual positions are incredibly uncomfortable if they have urinary tract infections. Experiment with different positions to find the one that does not cause pain.
Pay Attention To Your Symptoms
Pay attention to your body’s natural signals. Often, your body knows what is needed and when it is needed. For example, if you feel a sudden urge to urinate, don’t ignore it. Instead, stop the activity and head to the bathroom.
The reason for this is twofold, urinating helps to flush bacteria from the body, and holding your urine, even for a short time, increases the likelihood of worsening your existing infection or contracting a new infection.
A UTI can cause the sensitive tissue of the vaginal area to become irritated and inflamed. This inflammation leads to increased discomfort and can increase the risk of tearing. The friction and motion involved in sexual activity can exacerbate this risk.
If you engage in sexual activity, consider using a personal lubricant to reduce discomfort and lower the risk of damaging the skin and tissue. Be sure to choose a personal lubricant free of excessive chemicals and fragrances to avoid further irritation.
There is a small to moderate risk that the harmful bacteria responsible for causing the UTI could be passed to a partner during sexual activity. Therefore, use proper prophylactic protection during all sexual activity to reduce the likelihood of spreading this harmful bacteria back and forth between your partner and yourself.
Consult Your Doctor
In most cases, if the symptoms of your UTI have resolved to the degree that you are physically comfortable resuming sexual activity, there should be little harm if you take the precautions discussed above. That being said, if you experience new symptoms, a worsening of symptoms, or if your UTI seems to return after sexual activity, it is strongly advised that you cease all sexual activity and consult your doctor.
Additionally, if you have any concerns about the proper time to resume sexual activity during or following treatment for a UTI, it is always a good idea to seek out the advice of a healthcare professional to ensure that you do not complicate your treatment and prolong your recovery time.
When Can You Have Sex After A UTI?
As we discussed above, it is advisable to avoid sexual activity until your UTI has been entirely resolved. This means that you will have completed your entire course of treatment prescribed by your doctor or healthcare professional, and you are no longer experiencing any symptoms of UTI.
While this is the official advice regarding the resumption of sexual activity following a UTI diagnosis, many patients choose to resume sexual activity before completing the entire course of treatment for their UTI.
It is important to remember that continuing sexual activity before your UTI has entirely resolved may be uncomfortable and may increase the risk of passing the infection to your partner or reintroducing harmful bacteria to your body, prolonging your recovery time.
If you do decide to resume sexual activity before completing treatment for a UTI, be sure to take precautions to limit the risk of infecting your partner or exacerbating your symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you still have questions regarding sexual activity during or immediately following treatment for a UTI? If so, you may find your answers here in our FAQs section. In addition, we have compiled a list of responses to the most commonly asked questions regarding sex during or following a UTI.
A UTI is caused by introducing harmful bacteria to the urinary system. While a UTI does not meet the criteria to be considered contagious, or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), any activity that introduces harmful bacteria to the urinary system can lead to a UTI.
For example, during sexual activity, harmful bacteria from the man’s body could be transferred from the man’s body to the woman’s vaginal area, finding its way into the urinary system.
Sexual activity also increases the likelihood that harmful bacteria from one area of a woman’s own body may be transferred to the vaginal area and invade the urinary system, leading to a UTI.
During an active UTI, there is an increased population of infection-causing bacteria. It is possible to transfer this harmful bacteria during sexual activity. If these bacteria were to enter your partner’s urinary system, they might also develop a UTI. This occurrence is more likely between female partners. The male anatomy makes the likelihood of developing a UTI far lower for men.
It is advisable to avoid sexual activity until your UTI has entirely resolved. The irritation caused by sexual activity can damage sensitive, inflamed tissue during a UTI prolonging or complicating your recovery. Additionally, harmful bacteria could be passed back and forth between partners. Also, pathogens could be transferred from one area of the body to another, leading to a new infection.
If you must resume sexual activity before your UTI is resolved, use lubricant and prophylactic protection to maximize personal safety.
Most UTIs are caused by introducing harmful bacteria to the urinary system. Sexual activity can transfer harmful bacteria in one person’s body into the vicinity of the urinary tract of the partner. Additionally, pathogens found in one area of the body can be transferred to the urinary tract area by sexual activity. If this bacteria then travel into the urinary tract and begins to multiply, a UTI can result.
Frequent sexual activity can increase the likelihood of developing a UTI or other types of infection. Any activity that increases the possibility of dangerous bacteria entering the urinary system will increase UTI risk. Sexual activity, especially with multiple partners, can introduce infection-causing bacteria to the vaginal area and urinary system.
Frequent sex also increases the risk of infection by introducing hazardous bacteria from other body parts to the urinary tract. Regular sexual activity does not cause most UTIs, but every sexual interaction increases your risk. Thus, the more sexual interactions you have, the greater the risk of a UTI. Frequent birth control use can also diminish beneficial bacteria, causing UTIs.
If you have concerns about the safety of sex after diagnosis of UTI, seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Your healthcare provider will be able to evaluate your symptoms and any complicating risk factors. Doctors provide you with the most comprehensive guidance for your unique health situation.
You can schedule a convenient telehealth appointment with Dr Alexa to speak with a qualified healthcare provider. Get answers to your questions and advice on the safest path to resuming regular sexual activity following a UTI.