5 Reasons To Give Your Vagina A Break From Sex

Photographed by Kate Anglestein.
If you're suffering from a vaginal infection, whether it's serious or not to warrant a doctor's visit, the first question on your mind might be whether or not you should abstain from sex. This really depends on what you're treating, but in most cases a little break from boning will do your vagina some good, says Cheryl Iglesia, MD, an OB/GYN and professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine.
You might be thinking: Well, it doesn't bother me or my partner, so can we just do it anyway? Assuming you're not in pain, even if you're totally unfazed by the odors and discharges that are often symptoms of an infection, that doesn't mean there aren't real medical reasons why you should refrain from sexy times until you're healed, she says.
In most cases, you can get back to banging a few days after you have an infection, but that's really only if you're actually treating it and you're not experiencing any discomfort, Dr. Iglesia says. Telling your partner that your vagina is out of commission can be a bummer for all parties, but it's almost always worth the wait in the long run: The quicker you treat it, the faster you can get back to your usual sex routine. Here are some common medical situations that call for a sex break.
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After major pelvic surgery.

People who have had any sort of pelvic surgery — including a C-section or hysterectomy — will usually receive strict guidelines about when it's okay to have sex again, Dr. Iglesia says. These are no joke, because you need to wait until your suture lines have healed, and in many cases, intercourse can delay the healing process.
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While treating a UTI.

Having sex can push bacteria into your urethra, which is one cause of UTIs. Dr. Iglesia says it's important to actually see a doctor when you get one, instead of chugging some cranberry juice and hoping it goes away, to make sure there's not some anatomical reason why you're getting them (like your urethra is positioned differently or your bladder can't empty properly). Your doctor will also prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. "If you're on antibiotics, you're good to go as soon as you're not experiencing any discomfort," Dr. Iglesia says.
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If you've got bacterial vaginosis (BV).

BV is like a yeast infection's annoying cousin: It can feel the same, but it doesn't go away as easily, and often comes back mysteriously. Even though you might be able to tolerate the uncomfortable feeling and fishy odor, Dr. Iglesia says you should take a sex break during BV. "BV is caused by an imbalance of bacteria," she says, so it's important to make sure you're through your treatments (usually a vaginal gel that takes five days) so your vagina actually has a chance to get its pH levels back to normal.
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Mid-yeast infection.

Prescription pills that treat yeast infections can take three days to truly work, says Dr. Iglesia. Even though the OTC suppositories are super-convenient when you can't get to the doctor, you should still wait to have sex until a few days after you've finished the treatment. "The tissues in your vagina can become inflamed from those products, so you need to give it time to calm down," she says. Oral sex is also a no-go during this time, because yeast infections can be passed via mouth, Dr. Iglesia says.

And you should always wash your sex toys after you've had a yeast infection, especially if you share them. Sorry.
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During an STI outbreak.

You and your partner shouldn't have sex until you're both treated for an STI like chlamydia, Dr. Iglesia says. "If you don't use condoms and you have sex, you'll just be passing it back and forth," she says. For people living with an STI like herpes, you should avoid sex before, during, and after lesions and ulcers pop up, because it can be spread through direct contact, she says.

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