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. After using an expired condom, i get these skin bumps around my body and mostly around my arms. Do both of these relate to each other? I have not had these skin bumps before using the expired condom. Thanks for your reply in advance

    1. Anastasia Visotsky

      Hi John, I’m not a medical practitioner, but it it’s unlikely 🙂 condoms deteriorate in quality and could break easier if you use them after the expiration date but they do not become toxic. So if you didn’t have an allergic reaction to latex before, this would be unlikely related.

  2. Hi Anastasia! I just noticed that the feminine wipes I’m using contain “octoxynol-9” is this the same thing as nonoxynol-9 and just as bad? Should I stop use? I do take probiotics regularly but would rather be safe. Thanks!

  3. Dear Melissa,
    My wife thinks I am cheating (I am not) on her because she has been getting UTIs for the past 9 months. She is 52 and insist on having sex everyday to keep me from cheating. Now she want to use condoms since she thinks it will keep her from getting UTI. She refuses to go to a urologist as suggested by the doctor and refuses to do a wellness check since she hasn’t had one in a while. She does have family history of diabetes (mother and grandmother). I don’t know what to do at this point. I feel like I am in the twilight zone. Anything you can suggest would be great.

    1. Hi Tobin, sorry to hear you and your wife are going through so much trouble recently. Well, maybe send her a link about estrogen and UTI? Since she is 50+, it might be an issue worthy of checking. Diabetes overall makes you more susceptible to infections so it makes total sense to push her for that wellness checkup that you’ve been suggesting.
      Best wishes,

      1. Thanks Anastasia!
        She also became vegan at the beginning of all the chaos and stopped taking a probiotic since she felt she did not need it.

        1. Well, that it’s interesting 🙂 Frequent UTIs could be a good reason to give probiotics another chance 😉

  4. My husband and I started using coconut oil as a lubricant and it has drastically reduced the chance of me getting a UTI. Of course I still have to immediately empty my bladder and wash myself afterwards, but the coconut oil has been a huge game changer.

    1. Dana, is this opposed to a different type of lubricant? Or in general you feel the coconut oil helps for prevention? I never use lubricant at all so wondering if I should try it. Thanks!

  5. Now i know im not crazy! I get a uti almost everytime i use spermicide condoms. It makes sense now. Thank you for this site

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