For people who have a vagina, it’s long been recommended that they make a beeline for the bathroom right after sex to reduce the likelihood of a UTI. But does it really work?
No, peeing after sex doesn’t “flush out” any sperm that has been deposited in the vagina during intercourse. Here’s why.
1. It’s normal
Many people have heard the advice to pee after sex because it’s believed that this helps prevent urinary tract infections.1
Urine acts as a power washer for the urethra, so urinating after sex helps to flush out any bacteria that may be present. This is especially important for women and people who are prone to getting UTIs, since friction from sexual activity can cause bacteria to spread from the vagina, anal, or oral cavity to the urethra.
In some cases, this bacteria can make its way into the bladder and lead to a cystitis infection, which is an inflammation of the bladder wall. If the bacteria moves up into the ureters and kidneys, this can lead to a more serious infection called pyelonephritis.2
Thankfully, this is usually not a serious condition, and a doctor can often treat it with antibiotics. However, it’s still recommended that people who get frequent cystitis seek medical attention because it could be a sign of an underlying health issue such as interstitial cystitis, which is an abnormal pain or pressure on the bladder caused by inflammation.
Although peeing after sex has been shown to decrease the risk of UTIs, it has not been proven to reduce the risk of STIs or pregnancy, so women are still advised to use some form of birth control if they’re planning to have sex. Using emergency contraception, like Plan B, can help to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
2. It’s not a sign of a UTI
The urethra is in close proximity to the vagina, so peeing right after sex can help to flush germs from the area. However, that doesn’t mean you’re about to get a UTI. Urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria entering the urethra from the vagina or anus during penetration, then traveling up to the bladder and/or kidneys to cause infection.
Typically, the pain and burning that people feel when they’re peeing after sex is actually from muscle spasms in the bladder. This is a completely normal feeling and nothing to worry about, especially since it’s not the same thing as being incontinent or accidentally peeing on yourself.
For women, the best way to prevent a UTI is by staying hydrated and wiping from front to back (not just after sex) and using a vaginal lubricant. Also, don’t use a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control because the friction from those methods can irritate your cervix and urethra.
Men can also prevent UTIs by keeping a clean genital and anal area, wiping from front to back before and after sex, and using a lubricant. They can also consider switching to a different form of birth control, as many types of diaphragms and spermicide can introduce bacteria into the urethra during intercourse.
3. It’s not a sign of an STI
Many women assume that peeing a lot after sex will help prevent STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea in the same way it helps to flush bacteria out of the urethra. This is false, and a big mistake that can cause serious problems for your health.
The urethra is very close to the bladder, and it’s very easy for foreign bacteria to slip from the bladder into the urethra. This is why urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect females at such a high rate. Peeing after sex helps to flush bacteria out of the urethra, which in turn lowers the risk for UTIs.
Peeing a lot after sex can also lower the chance of infection in the kidneys, which are much farther away from the urethra. This can be a problem for both men and women, and it’s one of the most common causes of kidney infections in adults.
Getting frequent urination along with other symptoms can be a sign of interstitial cystitis, which is a chronic condition that causes painful, frequent urination. If you’re experiencing this, make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.
Frequent urination is no fun, but don’t let the fear and myths about it keep you from taking care of yourself. Follow these tips to feel your best and avoid any unnecessary health concerns.
4. It’s not a sign of a pregnancy
Many women (and men) have heard that they need to pee right after sex in order to prevent UTIs. But this advice is not as clear-cut as you might think.
The idea behind the recommendation that people who have a vagina pee after sex is that because their urethras are closer to their anuses than those of someone with a penis, bacteria and feces can more easily get from the anus to the urethra during sexual intimacy. This can then lead to a urinary tract infection. The acidity of urine is supposed to help flush these bacterial particles out, reducing the chances of an infection.
For this reason, some women feel a need to pee after sex, even though their bladder may be empty or nearly empty. This sensation is likely caused by spasms or contractions in the bladder muscles, explains OBGYN Heather Dweck. This can make the bladder feel full and press against the anus, causing that urge to pee.
However, even if it does feel like you need to pee, you shouldn’t necessarily follow through on the feeling — especially if you’re not actually going to pee. The urge to pee after sex is typically temporary and will subside as the muscle spasms go away.
Also keep in mind that although peeing after sex does decrease the chances of an UTI, it does not prevent STIs or STDs. These infections are transmitted when sex carries STI-causing microbes through the vaginal canal and into the urethra. You can still get an STI from unprotected sex, but you can prevent them by using condoms and avoiding sex with anyone you don’t know well.