Sex causes UTI, STDs, babies, and orgasms. What a mess! But Let’s start with UTI.
E. coli bacteria cause more than 80% of all urinary tract infections. Surprisingly, E. coli reside in your lower intestines.
To put it simply: your poop is full of E.coli and there are always some bacteria around your anus.
Most E. coli are harmless and are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. For one thing, they help to produce vitamin K.
However, E. coli can cause serious damage to your health when it leaves its rightful place in your intestinal tract. How does this happen?
Sex should not cause a UTI
Before we dive into mechanics of E.coli transmission, I’d like to make an important segway.
If you are healthy, sex should not trigger a UTI.
If sex causes UTI, find out why. Look for an underlying condition that weakened you in the first place and allowed the UTI to develop.
Sex is not a cause for UTI. Sex is a risk factor.
If you keep getting UTIs after sex, it is more important to address the main cause of your UTIs. For most women, sex causes a UTI if they have weakened vaginal flora.
How sex causes UTI
If you already have weakened vaginal flora, It is pretty easy to get a urinary tract infection (UTI) during sex
Any activity that brings bacteria in contact with the genitals and urethra can cause a UTI. Sex can sometimes cause a UTI because during sex there is a higher chance for bacteria to enter your urethra and vagina, due to its close proximity to your anus.
Consider this joke that illustrates the point:
Three engineers are discussing what kind of an engineer God is.
A mechanical engineer says: “God must be a mechanical engineer, look at all the complex mechanisms of the body!”
An electric engineer argues: “No, he must be an electrical engineer! Humans operate due to electric impulses from the brain!”
A civil engineer concludes: “From what I know, God is definitely not a civil engineer: why did he put a waste line near the recreational area?”
#1 Bacteria move from your anus to your vagina
There are always bacteria around your anus no matter how clean you are.
During sex, bacteria can move around due to the sheer force of the action involved and make their way to the vagina.
#2 Imbalanced vaginal flora allows bacteria to grow
If your vaginal flora is not healthy enough to expel the invaders, the E. coli will grow and multiply in the vagina.
If later you are sexually active again, some of the vaginal discharge containing the pathogenic bacteria could be moved up toward the urethra opening.
#3 E. coli ascends to the urethra
If E. coli find their way to the urethra, they will eventually move up toward the bladder, where the conditions for bacterial growth are perfect.
E. coli bacteria will attach themselves to the bladder lining and will start to multiply rapidly. Next thing you know, it is painful to pee, there is blood in your urine, and you are feeling crappy.
Anal play (including unprotected anal intercourse) is one of the factors guaranteed to increase your exposure to E. coli.
Even though contracting a UTI from sex is not normally a concern for men, if they engage in anal sex it is better to use a condom.
#4 Contraception increases your chances to contract a UTI
This being said, if you are using condoms with spermicide (or any other Nonoxynol-9 contraception products) for vaginal sex, your vagina’s normal microbial balance could change for the worse.
There are several factors that could predispose you to UTI after sex:
- Lube with glycerin or sorbitol. Buy water-based instead.
- Condoms with spermicide. Buy non-lubricated instead.
- Any Nonoxynol-9 spermicide products (foam, sponge, film)
- Using an IUD for over a year
- Certain hormonal contraceptives
This could also happen if you are stressing out, taking hormones, or have just finished a cycle of antibiotics—they kill all bacteria, good and bad, throwing your vaginal flora out of balance.
All these factors may adversely impact the ability of your vagina to ward off E. coli. The more E. coli colonizes your vagina, the easier for the bacteria to get to your urethra.
#5 Other UTI risk factors
Sex increases the chances of contracting a UTI, but also all kinds of other things do, too. If you are not sure how you got your UTI, check out 25 main UTI causes that you should know.
Because bacteria can easily find their way into the urethra, it’s very common for women to have UTIs without knowing the real cause.
Sometimes the urethra gets irritated by sexual activity and you might then get urinary symptoms like frequency, urgency, and burning while urinating. This is called “honeymoon cystitis“, which is a misleading term. In reality, this should be called “honeymoon urethritis”.
In this case, the symptoms are not caused by bacteria or STDs, but by overstimulation and are gone in couple days.
If you repeatedly experience these symptoms and your urine sample is clean, use a lubricant and make sure your partner is gentle during sex and takes good care of their nails.
How E. coli Can Travel To Your Urethra
It’s pretty natural for E.coli to ascend toward your urethra, but some habits could further promote infection with the pathogenic bacteria:
- Wiping from back to front: The more you expose your genitals to fecal matter (poop!) the higher the chances to infect yourself
- Toilet water backsplash
- Using bidet that sprays water from back to front. Use the one with a de-attachable handle instead
- Wearing thongs: Some believe that wearing thongs would promote spreading bacteria from your anus toward your vaginal opening.
- Lastly, UTIs can also be caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). When a UTI is caused by an STD, the infection is most often only in the urethra, not the bladder. However, the symptoms could feel the same way.
In closing, remember:
- E. coli is a part of normal bacterial flora in our intestines, rectum, and human poop.
- It is easy for E. coli to travel to your vaginal opening. From there, especially during sex-play, E.coli could travel toward your urethra.
- E. coli normally cannot survive in the healthy vagina for too long (too acidic for its taste). But they feel perfectly fine residing in the urethra and bladder.
- Use special probiotics to keep your vagina healthy.
8 Holistic Strategies To Heal And Stop UTI Forever
Chronic UTI is a very misleading diagnosis. Most likely, you need to look for something else that allows for UTI to happened.
- Uncover true UTI cause
- Heal your bladder
- Fight bacterial biofilms
- Restore healthy gut flora with probiotics
- Improve your diet with a variety of fiber and prebiotics
- Improve your vaginal flora
- Heal your vagina
- Improve emotional health