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Urinating After Sexual Intercourse to Prevent Urinary Tract Infection

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 19, 2021

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common health concern. They are uncomfortable and usually require a trip to the doctor to get antibiotics. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of UTIs. Many doctors suggest urinating after sexual activity as a way to help prevent a urinary tract infection. 

What Is a Urinary Tract Infection?

A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection in any part of your urinary tract. Your urinary tract is the interconnected system of organs that make and store urine. The sections of the urinary tract include:

  • Kidneys: The organs that filter waste from your blood and convert the waste and water into urine. 
  • Bladder: A sac-like organ that stores urine before it leaves your body.
  • Ureters: Thin tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder.
  • Urethra: A tube that allows urine to leave your body. ‌

You can get an infection in any part of the urinary tract. The most common type of UTI is called cystitis, and it is an infection in the bladder. You can also have an infection in the urethra known as urethritis. An infection in the kidneys is known as pyelonephritis and it is the most severe type of UTI.

What Causes a Urinary Tract Infection?

UTIs happen when bacteria enter the urinary tract. Typically, this occurs when bacteria on the skin or from near the anus enters the urethra. Once the bacteria is introduced, it can move up the urinary tract and multiply inside your organs.

Anyone can get a UTI but, due to anatomical differences, women are more likely to get UTIs than men. Because the opening of a woman's urethra is close to her anus, there is a risk of bacteria transferring from one area to the other. Women also have shorter urethras than men, so bacteria can get farther into the urinary tract in a shorter time.‌

Some factors increase your risk of getting a urinary tract infection, including:

  • Sexual activity
  • Pregnancy
  • Age (older adults and young children have a greater risk of UTIs)
  • Physical problems in the urinary tract, including an enlarged prostate
  • Not removing feces after defecation
  • Changes to the vagina, including menopause or use of spermicides, lubricants, or douches

Symptoms and Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections

Most people who get UTIs notice symptoms and discomfort. For an infection in your lower urinary tract, you may experience some or all of the following:

  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling a need to urinate even when your bladder is empty
  • Aches or cramps in your lower abdomen

If the infection is in your kidneys, you may also notice fever and chills, backache, and nausea and vomiting. 

If you think you have a UTI, call your doctor to discuss your symptoms. You will likely need to give a urine sample, which may help confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. They might also suggest medicine that will help with the discomfort. 

Will Urinating After Sexual Intercourse Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

Sexual activity is a risk factor for UTIs for women. The opening of the urethra is close to the vagina and clitoris. Fingers, mouths, and penises can transfer bacteria around the area. If bacteria work their way into the urethra, it can result in an infection.

Some health care experts suggest that women urinate shortly after sexual activity to flush out any bacteria that have gotten into the urethra. Urine is naturally free of bacteria and, while it won't kill any invading bacteria, it can wash them away. After urinating, you should be sure to wipe from front to back to push any lingering bacteria away from the urethra. 

Other Ways to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

There are other tactics you can use to reduce your risk of UTIs. Most of them are simple habits that you can add to your routines. 

Drink water. Staying hydrated and urinating often allows you to flush out bacteria naturally. 

Cranberry juice. Some people find that regularly drinking cranberry juice reduces the number of UTIs they get. It also eases UTI symptoms for some people. 

Wash with gentle products. Highly scented products like deodorant sprays, douches, or feminine washes can irritate the skin near your urethra, making it more susceptible to bacteria. Mild soap and water are better for the sensitive skin in the genital area. 

Consider changing birth control. Birth control that goes inside your vagina, including diaphragms, or spermicide-treated condoms, can encourage bacterial growth. 

If you think you have a UTI or if you get repeated UTIs, talk to your doctor. They can suggest treatment and prevention methods for you to try. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Urinary Tract Infection."

Cleveland Clinic: "Urinary Tract Infections."

Mayo Clinic: "Urinary tract infection (UTI)."

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