It’s widely agreed that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are unpleasant and uncomfortable, and the constant need to pee is just downright annoying. To cheer yourself up, a bit of hanky panky might sound appealing. But can you have sex with a UTI?
We’re here to answer all your questions surrounding UTIs and sex, including if you can have sex with a UTI, if a UTI can be transmitted through sex, and if sperm, oral sex and anal sex can cause a UTI, and we share our top tips on how to stay UTI free.
What Is A UTI
UTIs are common bacterial infections that occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract, infecting either the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis), or kidneys (kidney infection or pyelonephritis). UTIs are more common in women because their urethra is shorter, meaning bacteria can enter the body more easily. It is estimated that nearly half of all women will experience cystitis at least once in their lifetime, with one in three experiencing a UTI before the age of 24. And, while it's less likely, men can also get UTIs - read our blog about male UTIs to learn more).
Several bugs can cause a UTI, but 80% of cases are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria naturally found in the digestive tract and faeces. Other UTI-causing bacteria include Klebsiella pneumoniae, Proteus mirabilis, Enterococcus faecalis and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
The most common symptoms of a UTI include a frequent need to urinate, painful urination (dysuria), and a feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen. Other symptoms may include dark or smelly urine, blood in your urine and a high temperature.
If you think you have a UTI, it’s best to see your doctor, who can advise the most appropriate course of action. Whilst UTIs can clear up on their own, antibiotics are usually recommended to prevent the infection from becoming more serious.
Can A UTI Be Transmitted Through Sex?
One of the most frequently asked questions is, “can sex cause a UTI?” While UTIs are not passed on through sex in the same way as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and are not considered contagious, UTI-causing bacteria already in and on your body can be passed between partners during sexual activity.
Because E. coli bacteria live in faeces, they may travel from the anus to the urethra via hands, mouths, genitals, or sex toys, triggering a urine infection. This is especially true for women, as the urethra is located close to the anus, making it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract during sex.
Feeling a bit of the ick? Don’t let this put you off, as bacteria are a part of everyday life, and our bodies can generally handle them and avoid infections. But, to minimise your risk, try to practice clean and safer sex (more on this below).
It’s also worth noting that UTI symptoms are similar to symptoms of certain STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhoea. So if you develop symptoms of a UTI and have had unprotected sex recently, it’s a good idea to check for STIs. To make this process super simple, order one of Yoxly’s at-home STI kits and get tested for common infections from the comfort of your own home.
Shop Our At-Home STI Test Kits
Test your sexual health from home with our range of at-home STI tests.Shop Now
Can I Have Sex With A UTI?
The short answer is yes, you can have sex with a UTI. However, it may be uncomfortable if your urethra or bladder is inflamed or irritated. Sex can also introduce more UTI-causing bacteria, which could worsen your infection or lead to a longer recovery time. As such, doctors often recommend waiting until your symptoms have resolved before having sex again.
Can Men Have Sex With A UTI?
Yes, it’s okay for both women and men to have sex with a UTI. However, it may be uncomfortable and can introduce more bacteria into the urethra, prolonging the infection.
Can Male Sperm Cause A UTI In Females?
Sperm does not carry UTI-causing bacteria and cannot cause a UTI. The penis itself, however, can introduce bacteria from the anal area into the vagina and urethra. To help prevent this, we recommend avoiding switching between anal and vaginal sex without washing first or switching to a new condom.
Male sperm can, however, cause an STI. Bacteria such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are found in the semen of infected individuals and can be transmitted to a partner if a condom is not worn.
Can Oral Sex Cause A UTI?
Yes, oral sex can also cause a UTI. This is because oral sex that ventures to the anal area can transfer bacteria via the mouth to the urethra and increase the risk of infection. In addition, bacteria hanging out around the perineum (the area between the anus and vulva) or any other part of the genitals, for that matter, could also be carried to the urethra.
Can Anal Sex Cause UTI?
Condomless anal sex is perhaps the riskiest form of sex when it comes to UTIs because the penis is coming into direct contact with E. coli bacteria, exposing the urethra to potential infections. Switching to vaginal sex after anal sex can also transfer this bacteria to the urethra and vagina. If you are a penetrative partner for anal sex, wearing a condom is the best way to prevent picking up bacteria yourself, and you should put on a new condom if you switch to vaginal sex after anal. In addition, make sure to pee after sex, as this can help flush any bacteria out of the penile urethra.
Tips To Minimise The Risk Of Developing A UTI
Practising good sex hygiene is key to minimising your risk of UTIs.
Here are our top tips:
- Make sure to pee before and after sex (both penis-owners and vulva-owners!)
- Wash your genitals after sex using warm water
- Avoid switching from anal to vaginal sex
- Drink plenty of water
- Wash your hands before and after engaging in sexual activities
- Use a dental dam for oral sex
- Wear a condom for all penetrative sex
So, to sum up, a UTI is an infection of the urinary tract, most commonly caused by E. coli bacteria found in and around the anus. While it's possible to have sex with a UTI, it's important to listen to your body and avoid anything that causes pain or discomfort. Plus, vaginal, oral and anal sex can increase UTI risk by transferring bacteria from the back passage to the urethra.
Although UTI-causing bacteria can be transferred between partners during sex, and sex can trigger a UTI, it’s important to remember that a UTI is not contagious and is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
If you experience symptoms of a UTI, such as painful or frequent urination, it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. But don’t panic because, with prompt treatment, most UTIs are easily treated.
And finally, practice our sexual hygiene tips to keep those UTIs at bay!