Can A New Sex Partner Cause UTIs & BV? | Uqora®

Can a new sex partner cause UTIs and BV?

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About the author

Kate graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University. She is the Content Manager at Uqora and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.

More about this author

About the Author

Kate graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University. She is the Content Manager at Uqora and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.

More about this author

Is your new sex partner causing your UTIs or BV?

Being intimate with a new partner is exciting. However, there is strong anecdotal evidence that new or multiple sex partners can increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Sex is a common trigger of both UTIs and BV, so it makes sense that an increase in sexual activity can therefore increase your risk of UTIs. So is your new sex partner giving you a UTI? No. A UTI is not a sexually transmitted infection. With a new partner, the bacteria that naturally exist on your skin and theirs aren't in harmony (yet). This can be a shock to your microbiome that leads to an imbalance. When the microbiome is not in equilibrium you are more vulnerable to a UTI or vaginal infection.This is more likely to happen with a new partner than a long term partner because, with a longer term partner, your microbiomes have had more time to reach an equilibrium.

This requires much more research, but there is growing evidence that a partner's microbiome can affect your own microbiome. If your microbiome is not in balance with the other person’s, it may lead to a higher possibility of infection. It takes two, and each person has a complex microbiome.

It’s important to understand how UTIs and BV from sex occur and methods you can do to put yourself in the best position to avoid possible infection, and feel in control of your sexual health.

Whether you are engaging with a new sexual partner or have had the same partner for years, UTIs from sex occur by introducing bacteria on the skin into the urinary tract.

How UTIs from sex occur

To understand the connection between a new sex partner and UTIs, it’s important to understand how a UTI occurs from intercourse:

  • When you have sex, it introduces bacteria into your urinary tract.
  • The opening of your urethra (located between the clitoris and vaginal opening) comes into contact with bacteria from the genital areas and anus.
  • These bacteria then climb up your urethra to your bladder, and start an infection.

It also doesn’t help that women have shorter urethras than men, so these bacteria have less distance to travel and more time to begin an infection. Some women are also more prone to UTIs than others, and if you have a compromised immune system from an autoimmune disease, diabetes, or are postmenopausal, this increases your risk.

If you already have UTI symptoms (painful, burning, and frequent urination, blood in urine, and urinating a small amount) seek medical attention as soon as possible. The only way to treat and cure a UTI is with antibiotics. UTIs do not go away on their own, ignoring these warning signs are dangerous as the infection could spread to your kidneys, or to your bloodstream (sepsis).

Whether you are engaging with a new sexual partner or have had the same partner for years, UTIs from sex occur by introducing bacteria on the skin into the urinary tract.

It’s critical to take your vaginal health into account to prevent potential UTIs from sex.

How to avoid UTIs with a new sex partner

As we all know there are a few lifestyle golden rules that are applicable for managing your urinary health on a day-to-day basis such as drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated, being conscious of your diet, and avoiding douching, feminine sprays, scented tampons or pads. It’s important to upkeep these habits if you are sexually active as well, as sex can only exacerbate these issues more.

A few more tips specifically for sex and urinary health include:

  • Urinate after sex. This, along with water, is a key way to flush out bacteria that may have been pushed into the urethra during sex.
  • Do not use lubes and condoms containing spermicide or glycerine. These products irritate vaginal tissue and make it easier for bacteria to thrive.
  • Birth control like diaphragms and sponges can increase your risk for UTI.
  • Be careful when switching from anal or oral to vaginal sex as this increases the likelihood of bacteria entering the urinary tract.
  • If you are using toys, be sure to wash before and after use with hypoallergenic soap.

It’s also important to note that a vaginal microbiome imbalance could also be the root of UTIs. Vaginal microbiome imbalance can be BV or yeast infections, which inherently leave you more susceptible to contracting a UTI. It’s critical to take your vaginal health into account to prevent potential UTIs from sex.

It’s critical to take your vaginal health into account to prevent potential UTIs from sex.

An imbalance in the vaginal microbiome can result in BV or yeast infections.

How BV from sex occurs

There is strong anecdotal evidence that new or multiple sex partners increase the risk of BV. BV is the most common vaginal infection and it’s caused by an imbalance in vaginal bacteria. Individuals have very different bacterial microbiomes on their skin, so exposing those microbiomes to the vagina can disrupt the balance of the vaginal microbiome and lead to vaginal infections like BV and yeast infections.

If you have a new partner, you might go through several months of cyclical BV and yeast infections because the antibiotics for these infections can also increase the risk of other infections. When antibiotics kill unhealthy bacteria, they also kill the “good” bacteria (lactobacillus) which are necessary for maintaining a healthy vaginal microbiome.

Things that deplete lactobacilli levels and disrupt the vaginal pH include:

  • Non PH balanced soaps with scents and harsh chemicals
  • Spermicidal or glycerin lubes
  • Douches
  • Semen
  • Antibiotics

An imbalance in the vaginal microbiome can result in BV or yeast infections.

BV and yeast infections can leave you more vulnerable to UTIs, causing a cycle of infections that can be difficult to break out of.

How to avoid BV with a new sex partner

Women with new sexual partners or women that are prone to UTIs from sex, need to be mindful of balancing the vaginal microbiome. Taking steps to replenish lactobacilli is easy. You may have heard about probiotics or eating foods like yogurt or kombucha to achieve a healthy gut. Probiotics are also good for your vaginal health. Strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri are clinically proven to prevent relapse BV infections. They produce lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide which keeps the vaginal pH moderately acidic level of 3.8-4.5. When these bacterial colonies exist in great numbers, they’re successful at inhibiting the growth of pathogens.

Preventing UTIs can help reduce risk of BV and yeast infections because you are using less antibiotics. Less BV and yeast infections can help reduce UTI risk because you have a healthier vagina. The cycle of BV and yeast infections to UTIs is indeed cyclical, so it’s important to take both your vaginal and urinary health seriously.

BV and yeast infections can leave you more vulnerable to UTIs, causing a cycle of infections that can be difficult to break out of.

Urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis shouldn’t get in the way of being intimate with your new partner. If you have a history of UTIs from sex, it’s important to be open with your partner, set expectations for what you are comfortable with and remembering to utilize these actionable steps to promote your urinary health.

References

1. Kingsley Anukam, Emmanuel Osazuwa, Ijeoma Ahonkhai, Michael Ngwu, Gibson Osemene, Andrew W Bruce, Gregor Reid. Augmentation of antimicrobial metronidazole therapy of bacterial vaginosis with oral probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14: randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Microbes Infect. 2006 May;8(6):1450-4. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2006.01.003. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


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