If you have a UTI, your entire lady-part region probably hurts. Having sex when you have a UTI probably won’t be the most enjoyable experience. Still, if you find yourself with the urge, you might first want to find out if it’s even safe or recommended to have sex when you have UTI symptoms. (Read: Reasons why fitness leads to better sex).
What is a UTI?
Just to clarify, “a UTI (urinary tract infection) is caused by bacteria (usually E. coli, sometimes other strains) that infects the urinary tract—urethra, bladder, even the kidneys,” says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an ob-gyn in New York City. “Many UTIs are caused by sexual activity because, for women, the urethra (where urine exits the bladder) is in close physical proximity to the anus/rectum (where you have a bowel movement), and this area is heavily colonized with bacteria. During thrusting of intercourse, this bacteria can contaminate and infect the bladder,” says Dr. Dweck.
The good news is, if you’ve got a UTI, don’t panic—antibiotics will clear up the infection. Plus, there are preventative measures, such as peeing before and after sex and drinking plenty of fluids, says Dr. Dweck. But it’s always best to get checked by your gyno if you have recurrent UTIs or think you could be dealing with something else. (Read also:Yoga for better sex).
So, can you have sex with a UTI or not?
The simplest answer: You might want to skip sex until the infection is totally gone, says Dr. Dweck. Why? While there’s no real risk to your health (or your partner’s) by having sex with a UTI, it’s probably going to hurt like hell.
Engaging in intercourse could be anything from uncomfortable to downright painful, and it could even worsen some symptoms, says Dr. Dweck. (Related: 5 Vaginal yeast infection symptoms).
“Physically, the bladder and urethra might be inflamed and very sensitive with a UTI, and the friction from intercourse or other sexual activity would surely aggravate these symptoms,” she says. You may experience increased feelings of pressure, sensitivity, and urgency to urinate, she adds.
With all that to deal with plus the pain, it’s difficult to wonder how you’d be able to get into the mood in the first place, but regardless, your best bet is to go to the doc, get an antibiotic (if needed), and wait until the coast is clear.
“Most people will feel better in 24 to 48 hours, but you should finish whatever course of treatment is recommended,” says Dr. Dweck. Plenty of fluids to “flush bacteria out” can also help. “There are also over-the-counter and prescription remedies that will help ease discomfort while waiting for treatment to take effect,” she says. Bottom line: You should probably wait to have sex until you feel better. And let’s be honest, sex, when you’re not feeling 100 percent, means less than stellar pleasure, anyway.