Having a urinary tract infection (UTI) is a real pain in the, well, you know. Even though you may be dealing with some pretty intense symptoms, like a constant urge to pee and a burning sensation when you actually go, you can’t just press pause on life—including your love life—until you recover. So… you may wonder at some point (for a friend, of course) if you can have sex with a UTI.
After all, a UTI is an infection of your urinary tract and technically, that’s not your vagina, clitoris, or any of the other organs you use during sex. And, if you’re a few days deep into taking antibiotics for your infection, you’re probably starting to feel better. Maybe it is time to get back in the saddle, as they say…
Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to recover from a urinary tract infection is to take your full course of antibiotics (if your doctor prescribes them to you), drink plenty of water and other fluids, and to take pain medication if your doctor thinks you may need it. But nothing warns that having sex will make your bladder fall out or anything, which means you’re kind of left guessing here.
So, can you have sex with a UTI? Will it make things worse? Could you possibly infect your partner? And what if you already had sex with a UTI (again, that friend is wondering). For all those questions—and maybe a few you haven’t even thought of yet—the answers at your fingertips. Here’s what OB-GYNs have to say:
So, can you have sex when you have a UTI?
In general, yeah, doctors give the green light to have sex with a UTI. There are a few caveats, though, including the fact that there’s really no data analyzing the impact of intercourse on UTIs.
“No one has studied this,” points out Lauren Streicher, MD, a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s not like you can find a journal article on what happens.”
Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando, says that while having sex when you have a UTI “isn’t really recommended,” she adds that “it’s not the end of the world” (for you or your vagina) if you do.
There are a few things to consider before getting busy, though. Keep the following in mind the next time you’re considering a mid-UTI bedroom romp.
It could be painful.
This largely depends on where you are in your UTI treatment, if you’re being treated at all. Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria gets into your urethra (the tube you pee out of) and multiplies in your urinary tract, according to the National Library of Medicine, and they’re usually treated with antibiotics.
If you haven’t begun treatment yet, or if you’ve just started a round of antibiotics, you might feel uncomfortable and not up for sex anyway, Dr. Greves points out.
But, if you decide to push through it, regardless of the fact that the bulk of the action is happening in and around your vagina rather than your urethra, “you could [still] have some additional irritation, given that there’s a lot of movement during sex,” she says.
Sex could bring on other symptoms.
down there,” says Dr. Streicher. If you are being treated, though, you may have zero issues. Worth noting: She points out that if you’re on antibiotics, you should feel better in 24 hours.
You could introduce new bacteria.
Usually, the bacteria that can get introduced to your urinary tract when you have a UTI comes from around your anus or your partner’s anus, according to the National Library of Medicine.
There’s a chance that having sex (particularly penetrative sex) when you already have a UTI will introduce new bacteria, Dr. Greves says. Bacteria from one area can be transferred from one orifice to another via a penis, finger, or sex toy. In the process, that extra bacteria might wind up in your urinary tract.
That said, if you’re already on an antibiotic, and it’s working for you, that should kill the bacteria in the event you were unlucky enough to have even more pushed up there, Dr. Streicher says.
You can infect your partner.
File this scenario under “highly unlikely but remotely possible.” If your partner has a penis, “the likelihood of them acquiring a UTI is very low anyway,” Dr. Greves says. But, if your partner has a vagina, it’s a bit more plausible, she says.
“Any time there is the touching of one urethra to another, there is that possibility,” Dr. Greves says. But, even if your partner is exposed to that bacteria, it doesn’t mean they’ll actually get infected with it.
Also, Dr. Greves adds this important caveat: “A UTI is not an STI.” UTIs aren’t considered contagious, but the possibility of passing bacteria from your body to another person’s certainly ups their chances at infection.
What if I already had sex with a UTI?
TBH, experts are not overly concerned about this. “I’ve never told anyone that they should abstain from sex,” Dr. Streicher says. But, she adds, “If someone is symptomatic, they’re probably not going to be having sex because they’re in pain anyway.”
Dr. Greves recommends using your best judgment here. If you’re being treated and you feel okay, you should be just fine to have sex. “But if you’re uncomfortable, it’s best to just allow yourself to heal instead of introducing another variable into that equation,” she says.