When it comes to sex, don’t you just love looking at the positive side of pleasure and complete relaxation? Well, sadly, there’s more to it than just that. Nope, we’re not talking about the chances of an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.
Apparently, sex can give you a urinary tract infection, a.k.a., UTI as well.
But before we get into how and why, let’s get to know the problem first.
According to the Centres of Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), U.S., “UTIs are common infections that happen when bacteria, often from the skin or rectum, enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract.”
“It can basically affect different parts of the urinary tract such as the urethra, or the bladder, or the pipes connecting the bladder to the kidney, or even the kidney itself. However, in most cases, the urinary bladder gets infected and we call it cystitis,” adds Dr Sunita Verma, director of obstetrics and gynecology at Fortis Hospital in Shalimar Bagh, Delhi.
Characterised by symptoms such as frequent urination, bloody urine, cramping in the groin/lower abdomen, experiencing a burning sensation while urinating, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills; UTI can occur due to many reasons including poor personal hygiene, careless use of spermicides as well as tampons, kidney stones, suppressed immune system, diabetes, and heavy use of antibiotics amongst other reasons.
Worst of all: You can contract a UTI through sex
Well, if you thought sex was only pleasure and no worries, you’re extremely wrong.
According to several medical pieces of research, including the one published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, sexual intercourse increases the risk of urinary tract infections (UTI) in women. Here’s why:
Blame your short urethra
“Women have a very short urethra (the duct that carries the urine out of the body). Therefore, its mouth lies very close to the vaginal and the anal area, where usually a lot of bacteria reside. So, it is very easy for these bacteria to make their way to the bladder through the short urethra during or after sexual intercourse,” she says.
The romping and pumping can worsen your case
Dr Verma further explains that the thrusting action during sexual intercourse, can push the bacteria further in and help it travel further up the tract.
Additionally, it can also cause micro lacerations or wounds (due to friction) in the urethra as the vaginal as well as the urethral walls are delicate and also lie very close to each other. Hence, the infection can travel very easily to the bladder.
Your pre-existing medical condition can also be blamed for it
Dr Verma also points out that certain pre-existing conditions that can further increase a woman’s risk of contracting a UTI during or after sexual intercourse.
“For instance, if a woman is menopausal, her vaginal lining tends to become thicker and she is more prone to getting a UTI through sex and otherwise. Even during pregnancy, a woman could be more at risk of contracting a UTI,”. If a woman is immune-compromised which would mean her immune system does not work very well, again she’ll be at a higher risk of getting a UTI. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, HIV, and anatomical abnormalities in the urinary tract increase the chances of a woman getting a UTI through sex and otherwise,” she warns.
In fact, a woman, who already has a history of UTI or recurrent UTI, is also more prone to getting a UTI through sex—penetrative and oral—both.
Your meds can increase your chances even further
Dr Verma points out that excess consumption of heavy antibiotics as yet another factor that can increase the likelihood of a woman getting a UTI. This happens because antibiotics tend to kill the ‘good’ bacteria that is naturally present in the vaginal and anal area to protects us against infections.
Your partner’s poor hygiene can also give you a UTI
According to Dr Verma, if your partner suffers from a bacterial infection, having sex with him can give you a UTI as well. Not to mention, having sex with multiple partners can also up your chances of getting a UTI.
Hence, taking these precautions can be your only saving grace
Now that you know how prone you are to getting a UTI through sex, don’t start fretting over it, because taking these precautions recommended by Verma can keep you safe and sound:
-Monogamy is your best bet to keep UTI at bay.
-Maintain good vulval hygiene and avoid using any lotions or fancy products in your intimate region as they might disturb the natural pH of the vagina and make you more prone to infection.
-Clean your intimate region using lukewarm water before and after sex and after urination as well.
-Steer clear of vaginal douching or any other methods of vaginal cleaning as the vagina is a self-cleansing organ and these techniques only make you more vulnerable to infection.
-Keep your intimate area clean and dry before and after sex to discourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
-For menopausal women, using a hormonal cream to rebuild the vaginal walls can help protect them from contracting a UTI through sex.
-Avoid wearing tight and synthetic clothing as they are not breathable and can lead to bacterial growth.
-Drink lots of water and fluids such as coconut water as doing so can drain out any infection or toxins from the body along with the urine.
-Avoid acidic foods like coffee and citric drinks as they can irritate the urinary tract and promote bacterial growth.
So, there you have your answers about UTIs that you can contract from sex as well as how to prevent them!