Sexual activity gets a bad rap when it comes to urinary tract infections.
While intercourse can be a contributing factor, it isn’t the cause for urinary tract infections (UTIs) in every case. There are other possible causes for this infection that most commonly impacts the lower urinary tract, or the bladder and urethra.1
But even if sex isn’t why you’re now bothered by an infection, can you have sex with a UTI? Let’s take a look.
What is a UTI?
This infection impacts any part of your urinary system, which includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. As mentioned, the bladder and urethra are the most common sites of this annoying condition.
If the infection does spread to your kidneys, it can have serious consequences.1 Otherwise, the sometimes painful symptoms are relatively easy to treat, usually with antibiotics.
What Causes a UTI?
UTIs are common, as between 50% and 60% of adult women will have at least one UTI in their life2, and some women have repeat infections or suffer more often from UTIs. These recurrent infections in women are defined as when a woman experiences two or more UTIs in a six-month period or four or more within a year.1
Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than men because we have a shorter urethra. This allows for UTI-causing bacteria to more easily affect us, for instance by entering our body through the vagina, where there is a shorter distance for the bacteria to multiply and reach the bladder. That can also raise the question for men of can you have sex with UTI.
Symptoms include a strong, persistent urge to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, and urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-coloured, a sign of blood in the urine.1
Besides our female anatomy, there are other risk factors that can lead to UTIs. Certain types of birth control, such as diaphragms or spermicidal agents may be a risk factor. Post-menopausal women often see a change in the urinary tract caused by a decline in estrogen, and that may open the door to infection.
And, sexual activity has been defined as a risk of infection, as well as having a new sexual partner.3 Even with post-menopausal women, studies have shown an increase in risk of UTI after sexual intercourse.4
That doesn’t mean sex is bad. It simply means there could be bacteria introduced during sex that could lead to a UTI. You can help prevent that bacteria from taking hold by emptying your bladder soon after intercourse, and changing your birth control method to avoid diaphragms, or unlubricated or spermicide-treated condoms, as they can contribute to bacterial growth.1
While women often wonder if sex caused their infection, they also wonder can you have sex with UTI.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
You might be familiar with UTI symptoms, but they can also seem similar to other infections, like a yeast infection. Here are the most common symptoms of a UTI:
- A strong, frequent urge to pee, and then passing small amounts
- A burning sensation when peeing
- Frequent urination
- Painful Urination
- Strong-smelling urine
- Cloudy urine
- Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored—a sign of blood in the urine
- Sometimes pain in the center of the pelvis and around the area of the pubic bone
If you’ve experienced a UTI, you are certainly not alone. It’s expected that nearly one in every two women will experience at least one UTI in her lifetime, and nearly one in three women will have received antibiotic treatment for a UTI before the age of 24.3 Antibiotics are how UTIs are most commonly treated.
If you have the symptoms of a UTI, you should see a healthcare provider. That’s because there’s a risk of kidney infection, which can cause serious consequences.1 A bacterial infection that has moved into the upper urinary tract can result in back or side pain, high fever, shaking and chills, nausea and vomiting.1 It’s absolutely vital to see a doctor immediately if you’re experiencing any of these conditions to determine the type of infection you may have. UTI symptoms can also be similar to that of a bladder infection, so having a healthcare provider assess and properly diagnose your condition is critical to avoid complications.
Can You Have Sex With a UTI?
Once you have been diagnosed with a UTI and you’re undergoing treatment, can you have sex with UTI?
First off, UTIs are not sexually transmitted and are not contagious. Can you pass a UTI to your partner? No. This means that you will not pass your UTI to your partner if you choose to have sex.5 It is possible, however, to pass the bacteria that causes a UTI, and these bacteria could cause a secondary infection.6 Can you have sex while taking antibiotics for UTI? Yes, but you might want to wait.
It’s usually recommended to avoid sex until the UTI is completely cleared up. The main reason is that sex may irritate the urinary tract and it could push bacteria into the urethra, which could worsen the infection.5 So does it hurt to have sex with a UTI? It might, and it might make the UTI symptoms worse. What happens if you have sex with a UTI?
Here are some other risks of having sexual intercourse with a UTI:
- It may cause pain or irritate your sensitive urethra.
- Pressure on the internal walls of the vagina may also put pressure on the bladder, making the pain of your UTI worse.
- Sexual intercourse may force bacteria from other places around the genital area into the urethra. Introducing more bacteria into the urinary tract could make the infection worse and slow down the healing process.
There’s also the risk that your symptoms may actually be a sexually transmitted disease. Some common STDs have similar symptoms to what you might experience if you have a UTI. STDs can be more serious than a UTI and they are more likely to transfer from one person to another.7
Ask Your Doctor
If you think you have a UTI, it’s best to see your doctor to receive a proper diagnosis and receive a treatment plan for your infection. When caught early, UTIs are a common condition that can easily be treated. That’s also the right place to ask can you have sex with UTI. Your doctor will be able to provide advice on whether you can have sex with a UTI. Recovery time is typically 3 days after a course of prescribed antibiotics, so you don’t have to let a UTI get in the way of living your life!
Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you and seek treatment for your UTI or other health concerns.