You may have heard from well-meaning friends and family that you should make a beeline for the bathroom immediately after sex. This is something that can definitely help prevent UTIs, especially in females.
The female urethra is shorter than the male urethra, making it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder during vaginal or anal penetration. Peeing after sex flushes these germs out.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Your urinary tract helps your body absorb nutrients and get rid of waste, but it isn’t immune to infection. Most UTIs are caused by bacteria, including E coli. The type that causes infections in the urethra and bladder is called uropathogenic E coli (UPEC). When this type of E coli spreads from the rectum to the anal opening, it can enter your body through the urethra and cause a cystitis or pyelonephritis infection.
Women are more susceptible to UTIs than men and experience recurrent infections because the female urethra is shorter. Sexual activity can transfer bacteria from the anal area to the urethra, especially in people who wipe from back to front or use feminine hygiene sprays or scented douching powders. Using a diaphragm or spermicide increases the risk of an infection as well. Women who use a vaginal ring or are postmenopausal can also have an increased risk of an infection because the decrease in estrogen makes the anal area more vulnerable.
The symptoms of UTIs include pain or pressure in the bladder and a fever. Your doctor can diagnose a UTI and prescribe antibiotics to treat it. Some types of bacteria have become resistant to certain antibiotics, so your doctor may need to change the medications that you are taking for future infections. If you have frequent UTIs, your doctor might recommend a healthier lifestyle, such as choosing fragrance-free soaps and avoiding greasy foods and carbonated drinks.
Many well-meaning friends and family members might tell you to pee after sex. And it’s true, urinating after sexual activity will decrease your chances of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI).
But just because you may have a urge to pee after sex doesn’t mean you should always follow that advice. In fact, if you’re trying to conceive or prevent pregnancy, rushing to the bathroom every time you have sex can actually hinder your success.
During sexual intercourse, bacteria can enter your urethra through the anus and into your bladder, explains OB/GYN Salena Zanotti in an interview with Bustle. The friction caused by sexual activity can also spread bacteria throughout your vaginal and anal canal. But when you pee, your urethra acts as a power washer, scrubbing away any bacteria that may be hanging out in there.
Another reason you might feel the urge to pee after sex is that the act of ejaculation can cause a certain type of pressure in your bladder and uterus, which can lead to the feeling to need to urinate. But ejaculation doesn’t actually affect urine flow since the muscles and erectile structures of the penis block this.
However, if you’re experiencing frequent urination after sex, it’s important to see your doctor so you can find out the cause. Then, you can take the appropriate measures to manage your symptoms. This may include modifying your fluid intake, taking antibiotics for an infection or pelvic floor physical therapy.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Some STIs — including chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes — may cause peeing a lot after sex. STIs are infections caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. They spread through sexual contact or by touching an infected person’s genital area. STIs can also spread through other activities such as sharing toothbrushes and using the same sanitary products. The only 100% sure way to not get STIs is to abstain from sexual activity or use condoms when having sex.
STIs are more common in women, young people and gay men. Having unprotected sex, having multiple partners and using a non-latex condom increase your risk of getting an STI. If you use a latex condom and still get an STI, it’s important to seek medical treatment right away.
The symptoms of STIs include painful or frequent urination, vaginal discharge and unusual sores on the vulva or penis. Women with chlamydia or gonorrhea may have pain in the pelvic area during sexual intercourse and a vaginal discharge that is yellow, green or brown. Men with gonorrhea or syphilis might have a whitish-yellow or cloudy discharge from their penis or anal canal, pain when urinating or having sex and tender or painful penile sores.
Trichomoniasis, or trich, another STD, can make you pee a lot, too. Symptoms of trich include painful urination, odorous vaginal discharge and a feeling like you have to pee all the time.
While some sex hygiene practices may feel like they’re a total drag, other tips, such as washing the anal area before and after sex, can be helpful in preventing infections. Drinking plenty of water can also help because it helps your body produce more urine to flush out bacteria.
For women, urinating frequently after sex can be especially helpful because sexual activity can spread bacteria from your anus to your vagina and then your bladder through friction during penetration, OB/GYN Salena Zanotti tells SELF. Urinating within 30 minutes of sex can help wash those germs out before they can start to infect your bladder and cause a UTI. And wiping the anal area with a clean wet wipe from front to back before and after sexual activity can help too.
If you’re a male, though, it’s less important to pee after sex because the urethra that transports urine out of your body is also where men ejaculate (the fluid they release from their penis). This means that when a man ejaculates, it flushes away any bacteria at the mouth of the meatus, and there’s not much else that needs to be washed down.
It’s worth noting, however, that urinating after sex doesn’t help prevent STIs or pregnancy because the urinary tract is separate from the vagina, so the urine won’t remove any baby-making sperm that’s already in your body. So if you’re trying to conceive, make sure to use latex condoms every time.