Can You Have Sex With A UTI? Doctors Suggest Proceeding With Caution
There are lots of great things about the honeymoon phase of a relationship. When you're newly in love, everything is fresh and exciting. And, of course, there's all that sex. You just can't keep your hands (and other body parts) off each other! But there is another thing that's really common during the honeymoon phase, and that's our good friend, the UTI. (I'm kidding, obvi.) Urinary tract infections are the worst, but since you're still in the honeymoon phase, you may be wondering — can you have sex with a UTI? Or do you have to wait for treatment before you can get it on again? Because sometimes, you just really don't want to wait! To answer that question, I reached out to experts to see if it’s OK to be sexually active with a UTI and, if so, what precautions you should take.
But why do you get UTIs from sex in the first place? According to Everyday Health, women are more prone to UTIs because "the way a woman's body is put together creates a perfect setup for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.” This is due to our short urethra (as opposed to the bodies of people with penises), which allows the bacteria to more easily reach the bladder. Bummer. During sex, your urethra is exposed to bacteria from the genital area, which can result in an infection. In fact, “almost 80 percent of women with a UTI have had sex within the last 24 hours."
So, it makes sense that the more sex you're having, the more likely you are to develop a UTI. But does that mean you have to stop having sex while you get treatment? The answer, according to gynecologist and surgeon Dr. Prudence Hall, is that, “You can make love any time you want, but it’s not recommended.” She explains it may not be the best idea because it could potentially worsen the situation, since “more bacteria would be forced into the bladder and then inflame the bladder.”
Dr. Sheila Loanzon, obstetrician and gynecologist, adds that it simply may be too uncomfortable to have sex while you have a UTI. She says that “there is no medical contraindication to being sexually active while a UTI is present,” but it’s more about how mild or severe the symptoms are. “When someone has a UTI, there may be generalized low-midline pelvic pressure, pelvic pain, urinary urgency or frequency, back pain, fatigue, and a sense of not feeling well,” says Dr. Loanzon. “Intercourse with a UTI can add pressure and discomfort, so it may be better to rest and wait until the infection is gone completely (i.e., finish the full course of antibiotics first before sexual activity).”
If you suspect you have a UTI, Dr. Hall advises to “immediately start taking 3,000 to 5,000 mg a day of [the urinary tract supplement] D’Mannose. There are no side effects to it, and it can help.” You should then seek out medical attention.
“It is best to contact your health care provider if you feel symptoms of a UTI,” says Dr. Loanzon. She also explains, “The provider may request a urine test to confirm, or give antibiotics based on symptoms.”
This is also important because, as Rachel Gelman, DPT Director of the San Francisco Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center, explains, “It is important to note that some symptoms of a UTI can actually be due to other causes that are not an infection, such as pelvic floor dysfunction or a hormonal imbalance, to name a few. So it is important to see a medical provider to determine the cause of symptoms and start an appropriate treatment plan.”
If all that sounds a bit scary, the good news is there are some things you can do to help prevent a UTI to begin with. According to Everyday Health, you should always pee before and after sex, stay hydrated to rid your urinary tract of bacteria, clean your genital area after sex, and use a different form of birth control than a diaphragm or spermicide as they may actually trap the bacteria near the urethra and increase your chance of developing a UTI — and no one wants that.
So, ultimately, the answer to whether or not you should be getting freaky with a UTI is yes (if you're feeling up for it), but proceed with caution. Don’t feel pressure to have sex if it makes you feel uncomfortable and seek out medical care ASAP so you can clear it up as quickly as possible and get back to doing what you enjoy most. (Aka, your partner.)
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