Sex and Urinary Tract Infections

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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common infections for women. It has long been thought that sexual intercourse (vaginal penetration) is a major contributor, if not cause, of urinary tract infections in women. The thinking about the relationship between urinary tract infections and sex is evident in the slang term for UTI, “honeymoon cystitis” since a woman may be even more likely to get a urinary tract infection after going a long time without vaginal sex, or having vaginal sex with a new partner.

Several studies have demonstrated the association including a 2000 study which indicated that sex is the greatest risk factor for urinary tract infections, and the risk increases for women who have had a new partner in the previous year.

It is thought that “bad” bacteria are more easily introduced into the urethra during penetrative sex by the rubbing of the penis, and they travel up the urethral tract and cause infections.

What can I do to avoid getting urinary tract infections after having sex?
There isn’t anything that can guarantee you won’t get a urinary tract infection after having sex. But a good preventative measure is to always pee just before and just after having vaginal penetrative sex. The thinking is that doing this will flush away and out bacteria that may be pushed into the urethra during penetration.

No one has published any research to date that compares different sex positions and risk for urinary tract infections, but if you are prone to urinary tract infections as a result of sex, you may want to try different sex positions that involve less friction and rubbing near the urethral opening.


Foxman, B., Marsh J., Gillespie, B. et al. “Condom Use and First-time Urinary Tract Infection.” Epidemiology Volume 8, (1997): 637–641.

Ronald, A. “Sex and Urinary Tract Infections.” The New England Journal of Medicine Volume 335 (August 15, 1996): 510-512.

Scholes D., Hooton, T.M., Roberts P.L. et al. “Risk Factors for Recurrent UTI in Young Women.” Journal of Infectious Diseases Volume 182, (2000):1177-1182.