While you can have sex with a UTI, there are plenty of reasons to hold off until your down-under region is doing better.

By Isadora Baum
Updated April 09, 2021

When it comes to down-under difficulties, a urinary tract infection is no walk in the park. The burning, the aching, the phantom need to pee — a UTI can all make your lady-part region feel like a veritable war zone. And yet, somehow, you might still find yourself having the urge to get it on. But is it bad to have sex with a UTI? Can even have sex with a UTI?

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UTI 101

Just to clarify, "a UTI (urinary tract infection) is caused by bacteria (usually E. coli, sometimes other strains) that infects the urinary tract-urethra, bladder, even the kidneys," says Alyssa Dweck, M.D., an ob-gyn in New York City. It is not an STI.

"Many UTIs are caused by sexual activity because, for women, the urethra (where urine exits the bladder) is in close physical proximity to the anus/rectum (where you have a bowel movement), and this area is heavily colonized with bacteria. During thrusting of intercourse, this bacteria can contaminate and infect the bladder," says Dr. Dweck. Yuck. (Related: Here's Why You Might Have an Itchy Vagina After Sex)

The good news is, if you have a UTI, antibiotics can clear up the infection. Plus, there are preventative measures you can take to avoid UTIs in the future, such as peeing before and after sex, drinking plenty of fluids, and even exercising, says Dr. Dweck. (And that's just the beginning — here's even more on how to prevent UTIs.) That being said, it's always best to get checked by your gyno if you have recurrent UTIs or think you could be dealing with something else.

So, Can You Have Sex with a UTI?

The simplest answer: You can have sex with a UTI, but odds are you won't enjoy it. So, you probably want to skip the sexy time until the infection is totally gone, says Dr. Dweck. (And if you're wondering, "can I have sex with a UTI?", you might want to know whether you can have sex with a yeast infection, too.)

While there's no real risk to your (or your partner's) health by having sex with a UTI or having sex during UTI treatment, it's likely going to hurt...a lot. Engaging in intercourse while dealing with this common (albeit annoying AF) women's health condition could be anything from uncomfortable to downright painful, and it could even worsen some symptoms, says Dr. Dweck.

"Physically, the bladder and urethra might be inflamed and very sensitive with a UTI, and the friction from intercourse or other sexual activity would surely aggravate these symptoms," she says. You may experience increased feelings of pressure, sensitivity, and urgency to urinate if you have sex with a UTI, she adds.

With all that to deal with — plus the pain — just thinking about whether you can have sex during a UTI might be a total mood killer. Regardless, your best bet is to go to the doc, get an antibiotic (if needed), and wait until the coast is clear. (Related: Should You Self-Diagnose Your UTI?)

"Most people will feel better in 24 to 48 hours, but you should finish whatever course of treatment is recommended," says Dr. Dweck. Plenty of fluids to "flush bacteria out" can also help. "There are also over-the-counter and prescription remedies that will help ease discomfort while waiting for treatment to take effect," she says.

The bottom line on UTI sex: While you can technically have sex with a UTI, you should probably wait to have a roll in the hay until you feel better. And let's be honest, having sex while you're not feeling 100 percent means less than stellar pleasure, anyway. (What is going to lead to amazing sex? This best sex position for clitoral stimulation, trust.)