I’M A 45-YEAR-OLD FEMALE AND I’VE HAD 4 UTIS IN THE PAST YEAR! PRIOR TO THAT, I HAD ONLY HAD 2 UTIS MY WHOLE LIFETIME. AT THIS POINT, I’M RELUCTANT TO HAVE SEX WITH MY PARTNER AS OFTEN AS I’D LIKE BECAUSE I’VE HEARD THAT SEX CAN BE A CAUSE OF UTIS. I FEEL SO BAD. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
The idea that sex causes UTIs is both myth and a fact. The myth is the belief that only sexually active women get UTIs. The truth is, women don’t have to be sexually active to contract a UTI, and some women who are quite sexually active never get them at all.
That being said, sex can play a role in the development of UTIs because bacteria near the vagina can inadvertently get into the urethra during sexual contact.
Don’t let that stop you from having a healthy sex life, though. If you’re sexually active, one simple way to reduce your chances of developing a UTI is by urinating after sex. That’s because urination allows your body to flush out vaginal bacteria that tends to get pushed into the urethra during sex.
Keep in mind that sex isn’t the main way that women get UTIs in the first place. That distinction would go to pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause itself – those periods of life when your hormone balance is changing1. During pregnancy, for example, the growth of the uterus makes it more difficult to completely empty the bladder of urine, and that can increase the risk of developing a UTI.
My recommendation is that you talk with your doctor about the symptoms of UTI, particularly if a pattern of recurrent symptoms has started. Not all symptoms of a UTI are easy for the layperson to recognize, so an appropriate evaluation is important if you have repeated instances.
In the meantime, you can also lower your risk of infection by drinking plenty of water, making sure to wipe front to back, avoiding holding your pee, peeing before and after sex and using prebiotics or probiotics.