LGBTQ+ People Should Pee After Sex, Too, FYI
Peeing after sex is essential for wellness, no matter who you sleep with (including solo sex.)
The advice to pee after sex is one of those things many people have heard, but aren’t sure whether to take seriously. It could fit right in with the claim that jumping up and down after sex prevents pregnancy (it doesn't!) or that you should douche with cola (please, please, don't do that.) Especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ folks, it’s easy to dismiss mainstream sex ed advice because most of it is heteronormative and cis-centric. But what do you know? Even though it sounds a little odd, peeing after sex is great advice for everyone with a vulva, no matter who you’re having sex with (even yourself.)
How did we get here? It would be an understatement to say the United States has a sex education problem. The problem being — there isn’t any. Or at least, not nearly enough. When there is sex ed in schools, it’s usually fear-based, focusing on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies. Which makes it all too easy to just tune out.
Where’s the information about sex being pleasurable? Where’s the information about how sex works for any pairing other than cis-men and cis-women? And where’s the vital information about how to stay healthy and safe — presented without fear, stigma, or shame?
This lack of information leaves a lot of people getting their sex ed from locker room talk, late-night sleepover chatter, and dubious web searches, making it difficult to tease apart the accurate information from the urban myths and superstitions.
In my experience as a certified intimacy educator, I’ve worked with countless LGBTQ+ people who never received the sex education they needed in school, and who’ve had countless bad experiences talking about sexual wellness with medical providers. So, it’s time to break down why peeing after sex is for everyone, regardless of sexual identity.
Why Do I Need To Pee After Sex?
Why pee after sex? Because if you have a vulva, peeing after sex might help you avoid getting a urinary tract infection (UTI.)
While it’s possible to have a UTI and not know it, more often they come with the intense, and sometimes painful, need to urinate. And yet urination doesn’t provide relief. You may experience a burning sensation while you pee, and continue to feel urgency even when your bladder is empty. It’s an experience worth avoiding, whenever possible.
“During penetrative sex on people with vulvas, bacteria can be pushed into the urethra, which can then make its way up the short length of the urethra into the bladder, causing UTIs. Peeing after sex is believed by many to help reduce the likelihood of UTIs by flushing out that bacteria,” says Allison Moon, author of Girl Sex 101 & Getting It.
Why is this advice specifically for people with vulvas? Because people with vulvas have “a shorter urethra length that anatomically makes one more susceptible to UTIs,” says Dr. Sean Peter Horan.
When Do I Need To Pee After Sex?
Here’s the thing: any kind of penetration can push bacteria up the urethra — not just penetration by a penis. That means this advice is for every sexually active person with a vulva (and sex with yourself counts, too.)
“Peeing after genital contact is a good idea no matter [your] identity. Fingers and tongues can transfer bacteria just as readily as a penis can,” says Horan.
Moon echoes this, clarifying that infections can even occur without penetration. "Any vigorous rubbing of the genitals can cause irritation, soreness, and/or the spreading of bacteria.”
So when peeing is suggested peeing after sex, that means peeing after any sexual activity that involves hands, mouths, toys, or anything else making contact with the vulva — even when there’s no penetration. Better safe than sorry.
Other Ways To Minimize The Risk Of Infection
Peeing is great for after sex, but what about before? There are lots of ways you can set yourself up for good clean fun before your pants come off.
Both Moon and Horan emphasize the importance of hygiene when it comes to staying healthy, including washing your hands before sex. And we’re all hand-washing experts now, right?
It’s not just your hands that should be clean — anything that’s going to touch your body (especially your genitals) needs to be freshly washed, including sex toys.
If you’re especially prone to infection, or just want to be extra safe, Moon suggests, “These folks may need to take extra hygiene steps, including disposable wipes before and after sex, [and] using condoms and gloves.”
Remember, condoms aren’t just for penises. Condoms are great for sex toys, too. They make clean-up much easier, which is especially useful if you want to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria when sharing a toy with another person during the same play session. (UTIs aren’t the only risk to look out for — sharing toys without cleaning them can also increase the risk of Bacterial Vaginosis and yeast infections.)
Gloves are also a useful, and underrated, sexual health tool. No matter how well you wash your hands, it's easy for bacteria to hide out under your nails. And even well-manicured nails can scratch delicate skin, leaving micro-tears that make infection more likely. Gloves soften those rough edges, making tears less likely.
Finally, dental dams get a bad rap, but they’re an incredibly useful safer sex tool. They can reduce the risk of STIs when engaging in oral sex on a vulva or anus, as well as prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause infections. If you haven’t checked out dental dams recently, give them another look, there are now several styles that can be worn like panties, rather than just a square of material you need to hold in place by hand.
Get Clean Before You Get Dirty
“If you are particularly prone to UTIs, showering before sex might help as well, taking extra care to wash around the anus and perineum, where E. Coli can sometimes hang out and hitch a ride into the urethra,” says Moon. Just make sure your hygiene routine isn’t working against you. “Vulva owners should avoid harsh soaps with chemical fragrances, as these can dry out the sensitive tissue of the vulva and make irritation more likely. Instead, use gentle, body-safe soaps for your genitals.”
Remember, the vagina is self-cleaning, so washing should stay external. Many people are satisfied by simply rinsing with warm water while in the shower. If you want to use soap, try to focus on the bikini line and the areas Moon mentioned, like the anus and perineum — basically, the parts that are normal skin, rather than more delicate tissue.
Everybody has different sensitivities and it’s difficult to know what your body will or won’t react to. The safest bet is to stick to washing the external portions of the vulva with a fragrance-free soap made for sensitive skin (I use Dr. Bronner’s baby soap.)
Clean, But Make It Sexy
Don’t let all this talk of bacteria and chemicals ruin the mood. Many of the things you can do to help keep yourself safe can be a lot of fun, too. A solo shower can make sure you’re squeaky clean before sex, but why not make the shower part of your play, and get wet together?
Not only is this a good idea for your health, but it can also help you relax — and relaxation helps with arousal. First, the heat of the shower loosens tense muscles and helps you shake off the stress of the day. Second, a shower can set your mind at ease about any hygiene-related body anxiety you might be having. Although people regularly report enjoying how their partner smells or tastes, that doesn’t stop people from feeling self-conscious. And if you’re in your head with those kinds of worries, you can’t be fully present in your pleasure.
The shower can also be a great place to start your play because it’s a space where people are already used to being naked. “Let’s take a shower together,” works as an icebreaker when you’re wondering how to transition from making out on the couch to getting naked in bed.
Try using the opportunity to soap each other up as a way to talk about what parts of your bodies you do and don’t like to have touched, as well as the styles of touch that you enjoy. This kind of slippery show-and-tell is an ideal way to make your communication and negotiation an integral, arousing part of your play, which is helpful if you worry that talking ruins the mood.
Peeing Is Helpful, But It’s Not Magic
As any sex educator will tell you, there’s a lot of confusion about exactly how bodies work. Especially genitals. The fact that the urethra is a separate opening from the vagina is such a well-kept secret that it’s common punch-line material on TV. So it’s worth clarifying exactly what peeing after sex will, and won’t, accomplish.
“Peeing after sex won’t flush anything out of the vagina itself. So peeing after sex won’t do anything to minimize the risk of STIs or pregnancy,” says Moon.
This means that peeing after sex is just one tool in your sexual wellness toolkit — along with hygiene practices, and plans for STI and pregnancy prevention (if pregnancy applies to you.)
If you find yourself getting UTIs or other infections on a regular basis, it’s worth checking in with your doctor to see if there are other factors at play, especially if they persist after trying these tips. Because after all, UTIs don’t just happen to straight folks.
Allison Moon, author of Girl Sex 101 & Getting It
Sean Peter Horan, ND, MS