why condoms uti

4 Unexpected Reasons Why Condoms Cause UTI

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.

Quick Summary

  • 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.

Moreover, increased use of products with Nonoxynol-9 is associated with an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis, epithelial disruption, and inflammation of the genital mucosa.

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:

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

 

36 thoughts on “4 Unexpected Reasons Why Condoms Cause UTI”

  1. Hi.I’m having uti currently n taking drugs.can it be true that I got it from the condom?coz I’ve been having protected sex?

    1. Hi Rispa,
      Sorry to hear! A condom itself is not a reason for a urinary tract infection, but using condoms with spermicide is linked to an increased risk of contracting a UTI because the spermicide negatively affects vaginal flora. UTI is better than an STD anyways 🙂 just choose condoms without spermicide and see if this works better for you!

  2. Wow!

    I’m so happy I found this blog and its current and not dated several years ago ! I’m a 57 year old Lady and in the past few months, nearly every other month I get an UTI after sex. My husband and I’ve been married 16 years, and even with a condom I get UTIs at times. Am I to understand correctly that Condoms WITH a lubricant on them are bad ? Also, I’ve began taking Cranberry Supplements. 500 mg. Twice per day. -Thanks-

    1. Haha 🙂 Lisa, I’m happy you found us!
      First of all, sorry for your troubles, this must be worrisome. Here are couple posts for you to get you started on prevention:
      1) Importance of probiotics to prevent UTIs. Also explains what type of probiotics are recommended
      2) D-mannose supplementation explained in details here and here
      3) Also make sure to check this one estrogen and UTI
      To answer your question:
      I personally believe that yes, condoms coated with a lubricant (especially with spermicide) could be provoking your UTIs.
      Contrary to the popular believe cranberry supplements haven’t been proven to be helpful 🙂
      Let me know what you end up taking and please share your experience as time goes by! Best wishes

  3. I’m so glad I ran into this article. I’m 54 yrs old.. Two weeks ago my husband and I were intimate and I suggest he use a condom.. Two days later I had cramps and my stomach hurt a lot.. Went to the doctor thinking that I had a UTI due to pain after I went to the bathroom.. So they did a urine test and ended up I had E. coli in my intestines.. Can a old condom give me this E. coli? Remember again these systems happened after we had sex.. Need answers.,

    1. Hi Margie,
      Sorry for the late reply – I was away for two weeks.
      A condom itself won’t give you E. Coli. It is actually a bacteria that is constantly present in your guts, it only causes trouble when it is misplaced – introduced into your urethra during (for example) sex. Condoms could be an aggravating factor since they can mess with your vaginal flora.

      Hope this helps and you are feeling better!
      Please let me know if you received any treatment from your physician and how you are feeling.

  4. I’m so glad this web page is up. Seriously the information above is my situation. But its me who wants to use the Condoms. I have been dating him for 5 months n have got two of them since then. I’m having one now ugh. I’m 45 yrs. Old n never had so many In this short of time. I thought it might be the mothers apple cider vinger I have started to use n now I know what is causing this. Ty sooooooo much for the information.
    Sincerely
    Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle,
      I’m glad to hear that this is helpful!
      How are you treating the UTIs? If with antibiotics, make sure to strengthen your vaginal flora with probiotics once finished with the treatment and go hardcore on prevention!
      Hope this would be the last one,
      Anastasia

  5. Hi!
    Thank you SO much.
    I started dating my boyfriend 4 months ago and I have had two UTIs since then and two yeast infections from the antibiotics.
    Currently on my second one and it sucks so bad!!
    My boyfriend insists on spermicide condoms and i just know thought that they could be the issue.
    I’m so happy i found an answer and am looking forward to not getting another UTI!!!
    Thank you

    1. Dear Melissa,

      Sorry to hear! Hang in there and talk to your guy about the options. UTIs are bad, but unwanted pregnancies are worse! Glad that he is considerate and takes it seriously. Perhaps if you drink a course of probiotics you’ll be able to snap yourself out of the vicious cycle. Definitely try as many preventive measures as you could: good hygiene, drink some d-mannose water to be on a safe side. Hopefully this is your last one!

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