If you have a vagina, you’ve probably heard that you should pee after sex to avoid a urinary tract infection (and that goes for masturbation, too) — but what if your bladder isn’t cooperating? We talked to Angela Jones MD, the Ob/Gyn behind the website AskDrAngela.com, to see if skipping a post-sex pee sesh really means you need to cue up the UTI song from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
First, let’s go into just why peeing post-sex helps you avoid a UTI. During sex, bacteria can be introduced to the urethra, and, as Dr. Angela explains, “Flushing it out via urinating helps eliminate bacteria from the urethra before it can gain entry into the bladder, hence, causing UTIs.”
People with vaginas have much shorter urethras than people with penises, which means that, once introduced to the urethra, bacteria has a shorter distance to travel to reach the bladder. Their urethras are also closer to their anuses, meaning that bacteria can more easily spread from the anus. These two factors make people with vaginas more at risk for UTIs than people with penises. In fact, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, research suggests that 40 to 60% of cisgender women will develop a UTI during their life, and one in four of these women will have a repeat infection.
Another reason to pee post-sex: it’s not a good idea to “hold it” too long. “Static urine, or urine that is just sitting in your bladder, also increases your risk of UTIs,” Dr. Angela explains. In other words, “When you gotta go, go,” she says.
But what if you’ve tried, and you just can’t go? Dr. Angela notes that everyone's different, and some people are more prone to UTIs than others. “Some people don’t pee after sex and are just fine,” she points out. “Not everyone gets UTIs as often as others. If you happen to be one of these people, good for you.”
But if you are prone to UTIs, consider drinking water so you won’t be waiting a long time to pee after sex. But if you don't have to pee immediately, you don't need to try to force yourself. “There is no hard dictate that you have to pee after sex, just like there is no hard mandate regarding timing of peeing after sex,” Dr. Angela says.
Ultimately, drinking water after sex is a good idea even if you aren’t prone to UTIs, she adds. “Sex is a pretty physical activity,” she says. “Hydration and remaining hydrated is important.” So have a glass of water. And when it comes to peeing post-sex, remember Dr. Angela’s words: “You don’t have anything to lose; only gain, which in this instance, is decreased risk of a UTI.”