Can oral sex cause a UTI? (Another popular question: Can I perform oral sex on my partner, if she or he has a UTI?” which is discussed in the linked post).
Since adults can’t resist the temptation of putting someone’s else sexual organs in their mouths (and that’s ok!), let’s discuss what oral sex has to do with UTI.
Can oral sex cause a UTI?
First of all, UTIs happen in the bladder, but pathogenic bacteria normally ascend up into the bladder via the urethra. In most cases, there are plenty of potentially pathogenic bacteria already present on your genitals.
For example, if you have a vagina, just know that there are plenty of various bacteria in your vagina, and around it. For guys, your perianal area is full of bacteria, too.
So let’s make it clear, your tongue is as good as a finger, vibrator, or someone else’s sexual organ in respect of its ability to spread bacteria around and push pathogenic bacteria into a urethra.
In that respect, yes, oral sex can cause a UTI simply by mechanically pushing unwanted bacteria into your urethra, even if your partner is healthy. Quick reminder, girls: urethra is unfortunately located next to the clitoris.
And one more point: every infection has an incubation period, so if you know that your partner has chronic sinus or throat infections, you might want to take some precautions before engaging in oral sex. Yes, I just implied that a sore throat or sinus infection could be a risk for UTI. More on this below.
If my partner has a sore throat or sinus infection can I get a UTI?
What you are really asking is “can the bacteria that caused my partner’s sore throat (or sinus infection, or cold) also cause a UTI in me?”. To answer this question, let’s review what type of bacteria cause ENT infections, and what type of bacteria cause UTIs.
If my partner has a sinus infection can I get a UTI?
A microbiological examination of mucosal specimens performed during this research showed “Staphylococcus epidermidis and 6 strains of Escherichia coli were the most frequently isolated microorganisms, accounting for 37.1 and 9.7 %, respectively”.
If you are familiar with UTI causes, you might recognize the name of the abovementioned bacteria. Indeed, E.coli bacteria are responsible for up to 90% of all UTI cases worldwide. However, your doctor might argue, that E.coli that cause sinus infection are normally different strains than the ones that cause UTI in the bladder.
At the same time, we don’t know for sure if they could adapt and become pathogenic once they reach your bladder or could be commensal and make it easier for other pathogenic bacteria to flourish.
In fact, “the potential etiologies of CRS include bacteria, viruses, allergies, fungi, superantigens, exotoxins, and microbial biofilms. It is increasingly reported that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aerugenosa are found in the clinical isolates of CRS patients and are a cause of antibiotic treatment failures” another study concluded. None of the above I’d want near my vagina or bladder.
“The role of Staphylococcus aureus is often understated and there is an increasing prevalence of S. aureus in UTI in recent years”, some claim up to 25% of all UTIs could be caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
If my partner has a sore throat can I get a UTI?
A sore throat is one of the most common illnesses for which patients consult their physicians in the United States with an estimated 6.7 million adult visits to primary care providers each year; nearly three-quarters of these visits result in antibiotic prescriptions. But not all sore throat patients get diagnosed with a strep throat infection.
If you are diagnosed with strep throat, it means that your throat has been attacked by streptococci bacteria (aka “strep”).
There are three main groups of strep bacteria, that differ from each other in many ways. For example, they are spread in different ways and attack different parts of the body. For the purpose of this post let’s focus on Group A and Group B strep infections.
- Group A. They cause a bunch of different diseases but infamous for association with strep throat.
The Group A streptococcus is the most common bacterial cause of acute pharyngitis, accounting for 5–26% cases in adults. Group A strep bacteria can’t theoretically be a cause of a UTI, unlike group B Streptococcus that are also present in our lower intestines. Even though they come from the same “family”, there seems to be no direct threat of infection transmission from a sore throat to an infected bladder.
- Group B. In most cases, harmless for healthy adults. Most of us carry group B strep in the lower intestines, vagina, rectum, bladder, or throat. This is a type of bacteria that could cause a UTI.
And when it comes to Strep B, it could, indeed, be transmitted from one partner to another via oral sex “particularly male-to-female oral sex, increases the risk of co-colonization with an identical group B strain”, concluded a study that focused on methods of UTI transmission among heterosexual couples.
Quick footnote: oral sex and super gonorrhea
One thing to be concerned if oral sex can cause a UTI, another to worry about an STD. Surprise, your sore throat could be actually so-called super gonorrhea. Symptoms of an up-and-coming disease include a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and redness of the throat and it’s popularity is growing rapidly.
Safe oral sex
To no surprise, oral sex is not safer than any other form of sex, especially when it comes to being a factor for UTI. This is because:
- Oral sex could mechanically spread unwanted bacteria toward the urethra
- Your partner might transmit his (or her) own pathogenic bacteria to you during oral sex