Do condoms cause urinary tract infections (UTIs)? If so, why? Let’s take a look at several clinical research papers to better understand the link between condom use and UTIs.
- It’s not condoms that cause UTI, it’s the Nonoxynol-9 and certain type of lube
- Switch to non-lubricated condoms
- Buy lube that is better for UTI-prone: read Best Lube For UTI Prone
- And while you are at the pharmacy, grab some OTC UTI products are good to have on hand.
First of all, sex increases your risk of developing a UTI. Period. Regardless of whether you use condoms or not.
However, if you are using condoms with spermicide you are increasing the risk significantly. Let’s see why.
#1 Healthy Vagina Protects From UTIs
UTI happens in a bladder, so why condoms cause UTI? And why vaginal flora is important?
It appears that more than 90% of all UTIs worldwide are caused by E. coli bacteria that live in your gut, hang around your anus, and sometimes ascend to your vagina.
Frankly, it doesn’t take much for bacteria to make their way from your anus area toward your vagina, even with perfect hygiene.
Thankfully, healthy vaginal flora makes your vagina a hostile environment for E. coli. Basically, if vaginal flora is balanced, the invaders will be “kicked out”. On the contrary, if vaginal flora is compromised, harmful bacteria will thrive.
As you can imagine, during sex some of the vaginal fluids would be spread toward the urethra (unfortunately, the urethra is right next to clitoris). Therefore, if your “vaginal juices” are full of harmful bacteria, the chances to contract a UTI skyrocket.
Therefore, a healthy vagina works as a natural defense mechanism against recurrent UTIs. And now we are getting closer to solve the mystery of how condoms cause UTI.
#2 It’s The Spermicide, Not the Condom
First of all, good news: not all condoms increase your chances to contract a UTI. The trick is to look for condoms without spermicide.
A group of scientists conducted an experiment and concluded that spermicide-coated condoms were responsible for 42% of UTI cases.
If a woman used a condom with spermicide five times within two weeks, her risk of contracting a UTI was five times higher (!) than a woman using other forms of contraception.
Clearly, it’s the spermicide that you should avoid, not condoms. But why? What’s so bad about spermicide-coated condoms?
#3 Spermicide Helps E. coli
Unfortunately, spermicide facilitates the growth of E. coli. and enhances it’s adherence to epithelial cells in the vagina. And as we discussed earlier, you do not want E. coli growing in your vagina.
This means that E. coli bacteria that made their way to your vagina will be able to thrive and multiply while they wait for the next opportunity to get closer to your urethra.
If you are using spermicide-coated condoms, you are basically aiding the enemy.
#4 Nonoxynol-9 Is Bad For Good Bacteria
But wait, there’s more!
The active ingredient in spermicide that kills sperm (Nonoxynol-9) also suppresses the growth of healthy vaginal flora (lactobacilli), the beneficial bacteria that live in your vagina. Compromised vaginal flora means that E. coli have better living conditions because your healthy bacteria aren’t around to fight off the bad guys, leading to increased risk of UTIs.
If you have to use spermicide-coated condoms, make sure to restore your “good bacteria” with special probiotics.
Do condoms cause UTIs? Remember this:
- Avoid using products with Nonoxynol-9
- Nonoxynol-9 helps bad bacteria to grow
- Nonoxynol-9 hurts your good bacteria
Things To Consider If You Think That Condoms Cause UTI
The truth is, if you keep getting UTIs, condoms are not always the reason, or perhaps not the only reason:
- The wrong lubricant could be a risk factor for UTIs
- Oral sex could be another risk factor
- Anal sex could increase your chances of contracting a UTI.
Unfortunately, recurrent UTIs could be an indicator of various health issues. Check out these possible health-related risk factors for UTI:
Not everybody knows that constipation could be a major factor
- Depleted Estrogen, especially in post-menopausal women
- Vaginal discharge that indicates problems with vaginal flora
- Other possible issues