4 ways to prioritize your sexual and urinary health | Uqora®

4 ways to prioritize your sexual and urinary health

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Sex is a common trigger of both urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bacterial vaginosis (BV), so an increase in sexual activity can therefore increase your risk of UTIs. It’s important to note that UTIs are not a sexually transmitted infection (aka you are not passing a UTI from one partner to another).

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra. During sex, the opening of your urethra (located between the clitoris and vaginal opening) comes into contact with bacteria from the genital areas and anus. This bacteria can come from a myriad of places other than sex (i.e. sweat after exercising, travel, etc.) so it’s important to be mindful of the things that come in close contact with the urethra.

If you are sexually active, there are preventative measures you can take to decrease your risk of UTIs from sex. We know you’ve heard it all before – pee after sex, stay hydrated, and clean up after. And, those are suggestions for good reason — peeing after sex and cleaning up after is our first line of defense to flush bacteria out. However, we know UTIs still happen. Here are four other ways you can prioritize your urinary and sexual health all year round.

Lubes & condoms

Thanks to recent research, we have a new understanding of how the vaginal microbiome plays a role in recurrent UTIs. The things that enter the vagina, like lubes and condoms, can impact the vaginal microbiome and throw it off balance. When the vaginal microbiome is off balance, it can lead to higher risk of infection.

  • Try to steer clear of synthetic materials in lubes and condoms.
    • Spermicide-coated condoms could irritate vaginal tissue and make it easier for bacteria to thrive, and unlubricated condoms increase friction during intercourse, which can lead to inflammation of the urethra.
    • You may want to avoid lubes that contain glycerin, scents, or any other forms of added sugar. Glycerin (a sugar) encourages the growth of bacteria which can lead to UTIs.

In general, it is safe to stick to water-based lubes when you can and make sure you check the ingredients list before you use them

Other forms of contraceptives

Other forms of female birth control could also increase the risk of UTIs.

  • IUDs (intrauterine device)
    • IUDs are a hormonal form of birth control inserted in the uterus. Due to the nature of where the IUD is inserted, it is possible to get a bacteria infection in your uterus when the IUD is inserted and could increase the risk of a UTI.
  • Diaphragms and sponges
    • Birth control like diaphragms and sponges can also increase your risk for UTI since they can put pressure on the urethra, making it challenging to completely empty the bladder (1). When the bladder isn’t fully emptied, bacteria sits in the bladder and has more time to grow and cause an infection.
  • Oral hormonal birth control
    • Some studies have found that hormonal birth control taken orally does not increase the risk of UTIs. Further research may be needed on the topic.

Sex toys

If you’re bringing toys into the mix, it’s important to practice good hygiene with them too. Further research is needed but there could be a link between sex toys and UTIs (3). A precaution would be cleaning toys after and before every use with a mild soap and warm water. Be sure to allow your toy to dry fully before its next use.

Switching from anal to oral to vaginal sex

Whether it be a finger, a toy, or a penis – be aware of switching from anal or oral to vaginal sex as this increases the likelihood of bacteria entering the urinary tract. To reduce the risk of bringing unwanted bacteria to the vagina, be sure to thoroughly wash anything that was in the anal region before it enters the vagina.

While every body is different, it’s important for everyone to practice good hygiene after sex as a preventative measure. Peeing after sex is our first line of defense against bacteria entering the urinary tract. Be sure to tell your partner you will cuddle them after you pee!

If you suspect you are having UTI symptoms, we recommend visiting a medical professional to seek proper treatment.


  1. Marks, J. (2020, April 23). Can birth control cause a UTI? . Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/can-birth-control-cause-uti#birth-control-pills
  2. Stapleton, A. E. (2016). The vaginal microbiota and urinary tract infection. Microbiology Spectrum, 4(6). https://doi.org/10.1128/microbiolspec.uti-0025-2016
  3. ​​A cross-sectional survey of sex toy use, characteristics of sex toy use hygiene behaviours, and Vulvovaginal Health Outcomes in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/cjhs.2017-0016?role=tab

About the author

Sareena graduated with a B.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Oregon. She manages Uqora’s Digital Content and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.