A few days ago you had every symptom of a urinary tract infection: burning, urgency, pain when you went to the bathroom, maybe even a fever. Just the thought of sex was enough to make you cringe. But the antibiotics are starting to kick in and sex is sounding awfully good right about now. So… is it okay to have sex with a UTI if you’re still taking medication and aren’t feeling 100%? What if you use toys instead? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
What Is A UTI?
A urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra, usually from intercourse or contamination by e-coli from the anus. Symptoms can range from a little discomfort to blood in the urine to lower back pain. If not caught and treated early, a UTI can lead to a kidney infection, a medical emergency.
Many of us who have sex on the regular know the symptoms of a UTI all too well. We know that burning during urination is a bright yellow warning telling us to hoof it down to urgent care (like I had to on a Christmas morning — thanks, Santa!). We also know it can be hard to follow a doctor’s orders to refrain from sex until we’ve taken all of our antibiotics, in some cases as many as 10 days’ worth. AKA an eternity.
To F*ck Or Not To F*ck, That Is The Question
So is it such a big deal to have sex if you’re popping antibiotics and on the mend? Aren’t you already killing any bacteria that might get into your urinary tract?
Maybe. But there’s a reason doctors prescribe multiple days of antibiotics — medication takes that long to completely wipe out the infection. So while you may be feeling better after a few days of treatment, chances are you’ve still got some bacteria sticking around. Intercourse, or even oral sex or finger play, can force more bacteria into an already inflamed urethra and prolong symptoms you thought were going away.
But you feel fine, you say? That may be true — until you have sex, that is. Once you’ve had a UTI you’ll probably be sensitive for several days, or even a few weeks. Urinating might be uncomfortable for a while. Sex can inflame your nether regions on a good day, and could potentially cause painful swelling if you’re still battling a UTI.
How about toys? Well, vibrators and dildos aren’t much different from a penis when it comes to forcing bacteria into the urethra (yes, you can get a UTI from strap-on sex!). Any kind of play around the urethra can introduce new bacteria, exacerbate swelling, and potentially bring you back to a very uncomfortable square one.
Bottom line — it’s best to avoid sex and toys while you still have an active and symptomatic urinary tract infection. The upside? You’ll give yourself the best chance to heal fully and get back in the saddle without any lingering pain or sensitivity.
And if you don't have symptoms but are still on antibiotics? Like it's day 8 of your treatment and you feel a-okay? That may be all right, but check with your doctor before getting busy just to be sure. And make sure to finish your antibiotics so your infection doesn't come back, or become resistant to treatment.
How To Prevent A UTI
UTIs may feel like they go hand-in-glove with sex, but with a little prep and aftercare, you can banish the bacteria and have intercourse happily ever after. Try these tips to stay healthy:
- Water, water, and more water. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. If you want to avoid the dreaded Sunday night ER visit, drink a full glass of water before sex and another one after. A good flow of urine helps to rinse out bacteria before it has a chance to multiply inside your urethra or bladder.
- Shower before sex. UTIs are caused by ordinary bacteria that hang around the vagina and rectum, making a thorough cleansing key to staying infection free.
- Try D-Mannose. D-Mannose is a natural sugar molecule that helps to unhook the prongs UTI bacteria use to cling on to the walls of your urethra (yikes). D-Mannose doesn’t raise your blood sugar and can be taken in non-prescription capsule form. Pop one before and after sex with a full glass of water to flush out any pesky pathogens.
- Use pH-balanced wipes. If you don’t have access to a shower or lots of drinking water, try cleaning away bacteria before and after sex with a vagina-friendly wipe. Wipes are designed to be toted anywhere and everywhere, are easy to use and dispose of, and can help get rid of bacteria when you’re on the go.
- Keep it clean. Never use the same anything for anal play and vaginal play. Always wash toys, hands, and/or penises thoroughly before touching the vagina, and use a fresh condom if you switch between anal and vaginal sex.
- Wipe from front to back. Why did evolution put the vagina and anus so mysteriously close to each other? Ponder that as you wipe carefully from front to back every time.
Sex in the early recovery phase of a UTI may be tempting, but can cause irritation or a persistent infection. In this case, doctor’s orders really are worth following! If you’ve got any questions about UTIs or sexual wellness in general, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re always happy to suggest books or products that can help keep you happy and healthy. firstname.lastname@example.org.