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Chronic Urinary Tract Infections and Sex

Learn About the Relationship Between Chronic Urinary Tract Infections and Sex

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Updated April 10, 2014

Do you ever feel like chronic urinary tract infections are ruining your sex life? Make note of your symptoms and bring them to the attention of your doctor.

Bacteria, such as E.coli can easily enter the lower urinary tract, through the urethra, which is very close to the genital area in women and men. The bacteria can travel up through the urethra, into the bladder, and in a worst-case scenario, up to the kidneys.

Honeymoon cystitis is a term that refers to getting a urinary tract infection after having sex with a new partner. It is most common in younger women just starting to have sexual relations and anyone beginning a new sexual relationship.

Prevention

To lower your risk for urinary tract infections, before and after having sex, you should wash your hands. You also should not touch your urogenital area with your hands after you touch your anus. The rectum, anus, and groin have a lot of bacteria that can cause infections. If you use a diaphragm or spermicide for contraception, your risk for repeated urinary tract infections also go up. You may want to discuss alternative birth control methods with your physician. If you suspect a urinary tract infection, you might want to try cranberry juice regularly, a common recommendation of some urologists and gynecologists.

Low-dose antibiotics are sometimes given as a routine daily preventative. In some cases, they are recommended only after you have sex.

Women at Increased Risk

Overall, women have a far greater likelihood of getting urinary tract infections after sex. Although most studies have focused on younger age groups, there is now compelling evidence that shows a strong relationship between recent sexual intercourse and urinary tract infections in postmenopausal women.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Because the urinary system is so close to the genitalia, sexually transmitted infections may be part of the problem. Your recent sexual practices should be taken into account in evaluating any signs of infection.

Sexually transmitted infections, such as trichomoniasis and chlamydia can cause urinary tract infects.

Current pediatric practice recommendations for evaluating adolescents with urinary complaints are to take a comprehensive sexual history and routinely test them for sexually transmitted infections.

Among men under age 35 who are sexually active and don't use condoms, the epididymis, the tube that connects the testicles to the vas deferens, is a frequent source of infection. When the epididymis is inflamed, it is called epididymitis. Pain in the urethra, bladder, testicles, and groin are common symptoms. The inflammation is usually caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia.

Safe sex with a condom is a wise practice for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

Sources

Musacchio NS, Gehani S, Garofalo R. Emergency department management of adolescents with urinary complaints: missed opportunities. J Adolesc Health. 2009 44:81-3.

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