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. I have dealt with UTIs my whole life thanks to my peculiar anatomy. They have lead to serious bladder and kidney infections. It took multiple doctors and ultimately becoming my own advocate to finally figure it out. I’ve been UTI free for 2 years!!!! That is, until my current partner and I became active and he preferred Trojan brand condoms….. I don’t have an issue with Durex at all, but there is something in the Trojan brand that just does not sit well with my body. Learn and get comfortable with your body, fight for proper care and most of all, listen to your body!

  2. We used to use a lubricant from Durex which was with a dispenser for years and never had issues. Since we switched to a different one which is in a tube that you have to touch with your fingers, I had three UTIs. We’re going back to the other lubricant which won’t be contaminated through fingers.

    1. Hello!
      Great point. However, all cosmetic and OTC products available in USA, especially from big brand like Durex, go through microbiological testing, which means that common bacteria are intentionally introduced into the product to see if preservative kills it. In general, contamination with fingers is something every company forecasts would happen, and therefore they add some serious preservatives to make sure bacteria won’t grow. I’d be very interested to hear again from you and your experience with new packaging.

  3. I am glad I found this article! I knew it wasnt me and it was in fact the condoms! I have been suffering by UTIS since I lost my virginity a few years ago! Every year I would spend so much money on doctors that only subcribe me antibiotics and never once told me it could be the condoms!

    1. Hi Carolina,
      I’m glad it brought some clarity, I want to highlight though that underlying reason is misbalances vaginal flora, and condoms with spermicide or lube play their own role in aggravating the problem. Try condoms without lube and spermicide and use water based lube, see how this goes. BUT in the meantime make sure to restore your vaginal flora with particular type of probiotics and if you had multiple infections, check out other supplements to help you heal your bladder.

  4. Awesome that you suggest taking probiotics and cranberry pills. I have suffered from chronic UTI’S for 2 yrs now and my doctor and specialist seem to be no help as they keep prescribing more and more antibiotics. I just want to stop them in the first place!! I do not use condoms as I’ve read they can be a contributing factor. I am peeing before and after and drinking lots of water. Could my partner be a factor as well?Any other vitamins or anything I can do that you recommend? Thanks.

  5. This makes a lot of sense! Thanks for the article. I wanted to share that for almost two years I’ve been getting frequent UTIs and didn’t know why until I started thinking about what condoms I had been using. I found that along with taking a probiotic, taking Horsetail daily, and D-Mannose after intercourse, prevented most of my UTIs.

    1. Hi Rebekah
      just wondering do you only take a D-Mannose after intercourse? cause i suffer from the same thing but when using no condoms i get it

      thanks

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.