Symptoms of a UTI can show up anywhere from 24-48 hours after sexual intercourse. This is because bacteria from the rectum can make its way to the bladder through the urethra in both women and men.
Women are prone to getting these infections because their urethras are closer to the anus. They also tend to have more friction around the area from vaginal penetration.
1. E. coli bacteria
Some types of E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria can cause diarrhea. They make a toxin that damages the lining of the small intestine, and symptoms start 3-4 days after contact. If you have severe or bloody diarrhea, you may need treatment in a hospital.
Scientists think that the majority of E coli infections cause urinary tract infections because the bacteria gain entry into the bladder through stool. Normally, the bladder and urethra are protected from E coli by an outer layer of protective mucus. But certain conditions can break down this mucus and allow E coli to enter the bladder and urethra.
People with certain health conditions are more likely to get serious, sometimes life-threatening complications from E. coli infections, especially young children and older adults. These include a weakened immune system, low stomach acid levels caused by certain medications and seasonal eating habits.
The bacteria spread when people touch poop without washing their hands, like after using the bathroom, changing baby diapers or petting zoo or farm animals that have soiled fur. People can also get infected by eating contaminated meat.
Women are at greater risk of getting UTIs than men because the urethra in women is closer to the anus and shorter, making it easier for bacteria around the anus to reach the bladder. In addition, hormone changes during pregnancy can change the balance of bacteria in the urinary tract.
2. Frequent urination
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), then you know how uncomfortable and annoying it can be. They can even interfere with your sex life, especially if you get them often or they’re recurring.
Sexual activity can increase your risk for getting a UTI, because it puts you in contact with bacteria in your genital area. The most common type of bacteria that causes a UTI is E. coli bacteria, which are present in your gastrointestinal tract and feces. These bacteria can transfer from the urethra to the bladder during vaginal, oral, and anal sex or if you use a diaphragm for birth control. Using a diaphragm also increases your chances of getting a UTI because it restricts the bladder from emptying completely, which can promote the growth of bacteria.
Regardless of the cause, you can reduce your risk of a UTI by always using condoms during vaginal sex and by drinking plenty of water. It’s also helpful to avoid certain sexual positions that irritate or chafe the anal and genital areas, and to wash your anus and rectum regularly. You should also use a water-based lubricant when having sex. And you should pee before and after sex to make sure your bladder is flushed of bacteria. This is particularly important if you’re a woman, because the anal urethra is closer to the bladder than in men.
3. Frequent sex
Frequent sex, especially anal sex, can increase the likelihood of a UTI. This is because the bacteria that cause a UTI can spread from the anus to the urethra and bladder. Those bacteria can also be transferred from the penis to the rectum during oral and penetrative sex. Over 80% of UTIs are caused by Escherichia coli bacteria that are normally present inside the intestines. These germs can spread to the hands, mouth, genitals, and sex toys during anal sex, vaginal sex, or oral sex. Women are more likely to get a UTI than men because they have shorter urethras, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder.
Women who have a history of recurrent urinary tract infections or urinary abnormalities are at higher risk for a UTI than other women. A common way that people treat a UTI is by taking antibiotics to clear up the infection.
It’s best to avoid sexual activity until you’re done taking antibiotics. If you have a history of frequent UTIs, it’s worth discussing with your doctor when it’s safe for you to start sexual activity again. Urinating frequently after sex and staying hydrated can also help prevent UTIs. It’s best to do this for as long as your doctor recommends.
Getting a UTI — or at least the discomfort and pain associated with it — is not fun. It can also interfere with your sex life, especially if it recurs frequently. In fact, some people seem to get a UTI every time they have sex, which has given rise to the term “honeymoon cystitis.”
There are many things that can trigger UTIs in addition to sex, including frequent wiping (wipe from front to back), not changing underwear regularly, not wearing tampons or pads long enough, and use of contraceptives like diaphragms coated with spermicide. Women are more prone to UTIs than men because their urethra is closer to the anus, and they are more likely to have bacteria enter their bladder from sexual contact or genital hygiene issues.
Stress has been shown to negatively impact our bodies, which can also lead to a UTI. This is because the sympathetic nervous system is activated during times of stress and this can impact our immune function, making us more susceptible to infections.
Ideally, you should avoid any sexual activity until your doctor gives the go-ahead to resume. It’s important to be fully healed from a UTI and done with antibiotic treatment before having sex again, so it’s best to wait until then. Symptoms of a UTI include pain in the lower abdomen, pelvic region, or vulva, burning sensations during urination, and an overflowing bladder.