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Peeing After Sex: Why Is It Important?

Medically reviewed on Aug 7, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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During sexual intercourse, a number of potential contaminants can come in contact with your body and impact both your sexual and overall health. Because of this, healthcare providers generally recommend urinating 30 minutes after any sexual activity. [1]

This safe sex practice can help flush out harmful bacteria from your urethra, the tube by which urine travels from your bladder and out of your body. [1]

While this advice primarily applies to women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB), it doesn’t hurt for men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) to visit the bathroom after sex, either. Although, there’s not much benefit to post sex urination since the male urethra is longer and the risk of infection is generally lower than those with female anatomy. [1]

Understanding The Urinary Tract In People AFAB

For women and people AFAB, there are five components of the urinary tract [2]:

  • Kidneys
  • Ureters
  • Bladder
  • Sphincter
  • Urethra

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs that primarily help filter your blood, but they’re also responsible for removing waste and water in the form of urine—roughly one to two quarts daily, depending on your hydration levels. Each kidney sits on either side of the spine, with tubes called ureters connecting each kidney to the bladder, balloon-shaped and located in the pelvis. [3]

When you empty your bladder—or, urinate—the urine travels through the urethra to exit the body. To control this flow, you have the sphincter—two muscles that close the urethra, preventing urine from leaking from your bladder. [3]

To urinate, your brain will send signals to your sphincter to relax, thus opening the urethra and allowing urine to flow from the bladder and out of your body.

During sexual intercourse or sexual activity, bacteria from the genital and anal areas can potentially enter the urethra. This most often occurs in women and people AFAB since the distance between the anus and the urethra is relatively small compared to people with male anatomy.

If a bacterial infection does occur, a urinary tract infection (UTI) may arise.

What Is A Urinary Tract Infection?

A UTI occurs when harmful pathogens enter the urethra. Most often, this includes fecal bacteria, although fungi may also be the cause.4 If you’ve ever experienced frequent or painful urination or pelvic floor discomfort, you may have had a UTI. Other symptoms can include [5]:

  • Pelvic pressure
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Bloody urine

Sometimes, UTIs will go away on their own without treatment. Other times, the bacteria or microorganisms can travel up through the urinary tract to infect its two primary organs: the bladder and kidneys. (Although all parts of your urinary system can become infected.)

To that end, bladder infections can be classified as UTIs.

A bladder infection, called cystitis, is the most common type of UTI since it’s the first stop up the urinary tract. About 60 percent of women and people AFAB experience a bladder infection at some point during their lives. Like other types of UTIs, a bladder infection is characterized by [6]:

  • Frequent urination
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Dark-colored or bad-smelling urine

If the bacterial infection makes its way up to the kidneys, more severe signs may manifest. Kidney infections affect 1 in every 2,000 people and can cause [7]:

  • Fever and chills
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Painful urination
  • Bloody and bad-smelling urine
  • Frequent urge to pee

During sex, there are many ways in which harmful microorganisms may enter the urethra. These pathways include:

  • Unprotected sex, in which microorganisms from the genitals can spread to the urethra
  • Anal-to-genital contact, in which fecal matter can transfer from your partner
  • Oral-to-genital contact, in which oral bacteria can transfer to your genitals
  • Use of sex toys, in which uncleaned toys may infect your urinary system
  • Unhygienic partner(s), in which dirty genitals, hands, or other body parts may come in contact with your genitals

Peeing after sex can help flush out any harmful bacteria that may have entered your urethra. That said, neglecting to pee after sex doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a UTI. However, it may increase your risk.

Additionally, it’s important to note that peeing after sex will not prevent pregnancy.

See related: Why Does it Burn When I Pee After Sex?

How To Treat A UTI

To treat a UTI, you’ll first need to undergo a physical examination with a healthcare provider. They may order a variety of tests to confirm a urinary tract infection, such as [5]:

  • Urinalysis
  • Urine culture

Once a UTI is confirmed, your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic to eradicate the bacteria from your body. You’ll need to take the full course of antibiotics and follow the dosage rules according to the label to ensure the UTI is properly treated. [5]

How To Keep Your Urinary Tract Healthy

In addition to practicing safe sex and good sexual hygiene, you can help keep your urinary tract healthy by [5]:

  • Staying hydrated – Drinking enough water helps flush toxins and bacteria from the urinary tract, reducing the risk of infections. Generally, it’s recommended to drink about eight cups of water daily. However, you may need to increase your water intake if you’re physically active or if you have bladder or kidney stones.
  • Supporting your bowel movements – Exercising regularly and eating meals that are rich in fiber, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables can help regulate your bowel movements. In return, regular bowel movements can help support your bladder health.
  • Avoiding “holding in” your pee – If you feel the urge to pee, honor it. Holding in your urine allows bacteria to fester and grow within your urine, which can lead to a UTI. (A classic case of the caller being inside the house.) Resisting the urge to urinate can also weaken your bladder muscles and make it more difficult to fully empty it when you do visit the bathroom.
  • Practicing healthy bathroom habits – As you know, fecal bacteria is the most common cause of UTIs. To avoid the risk of UTIs outside of the bedroom, it’s critical to practice good bathroom habits, such as wiping front to back, rather than back to front. When peeing, it’s also advised to empty your bladder completely. Before and after sex, pee and clean your genital area.
  • Paying attention to your urinary habits – Sometimes, early UTIs can be hard to spot. Unfortunately, this can lead to more severe cases of UTIs, such as a bladder or kidney infection. As such, it’s helpful to stay attuned to how often you have the urge to urinate, any discomfort you may feel while urinating, and whether you’re experiencing leaking before or after peeing. These symptoms may indicate problems with your urinary tract, even beyond UTIs. Early detection is key to preventing the progression of such issues.
  • Exercising your pelvic muscles – Exercising your pelvic muscles with Kegel exercises can strengthen your pelvic floor and support the health of your bladder.

The Risks Of Neglecting Sexual Hygiene

Peeing after sex is just one part of maintaining good sexual hygiene—and UTIs are just one risk of poor sexual hygiene. Neglecting to safeguard your sexual health can put you at greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as [8]:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Genital herpes
  • Hepatitis B
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • HPV

To safeguard your sexual health and overall well-being, it's crucial to take a comprehensive approach beyond just post sex urination. The following can help contribute to positive and safe sexual experiences:

  • Use condoms – Using condoms consistently and correctly is paramount. Condoms provide a barrier that helps prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. Regular use of condoms, whether for vaginal, anal, or oral sex, can also significantly reduce the risk of exposure to harmful pathogens.
  • Get tested regularly – Regular STI testing is essential for staying informed about your sexual health status. Routine screenings enable early detection and timely treatment of any infections that might otherwise go unnoticed, preventing potential women’s health complications and reducing the risk of spreading infections to partners.
  • Avoid douching – Maintaining the body's natural environment helps prevent infections and irritation. Douching, however, can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.
  • Don’t share personal items – Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, underwear, or sex toys, as this can help prevent the transmission of bacteria or viruses that could lead to infections.
  • Get vaccinated – Vaccinations are valuable tools for preventing some infections that can have long-term health implications, such as HPV.
  • Monitor your body – Paying attention to your body is crucial. Monitoring for any unusual symptoms, such as changes in discharge, itching, or discomfort, allows for early intervention and reduces the risk of complications.
  • Communicate with your partner(s) – Open communication with your partner(s) is fundamental. Discussing boundaries, desires, and potential risks openly helps establish mutual understanding and consent, leading to more respectful and enjoyable sexual experiences for all parties involved.

Prioritize Your Sexual Health With Everlywell

Generally, peeing after sex can help prevent or lower your risk of contracting a UTI, which can occur when harmful bacteria enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract.

To keep your urinary tract on track, Everlywell offers telehealth appointments with licensed healthcare providers so that you can discuss your symptoms and find suitable UTI treatment online.

For those wondering: “Can I take an STD test at home?”, we also have the solution for you. We offer a variety of sexual health tests to check for various STDs, such as:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis C
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

At Everlywell, we check every box so that you can experience optimal sexual health and well-being.

  1. Is Peeing After Sex Important? Cleveland Clinic. Published February 1, 2022. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  2. Anatomy of the Female Urinary Tract. Saint Luke’s. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  3. The Urinary Tract & How It Works. NIH. Published June 2020. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  4. Flores-Mireles A, Walker J, Caparon M, Hultgren S. Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nat Rev Microbiol. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3432. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  5. Urinary Tract Infection. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  6. Bladder Inflammation (Cystitis). Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  7. Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis). Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
  8. The Neglected Health and Economic Impact of STDs. The Hidden Epidemic: Confronting Sexually Transmitted Diseases. URL. Accessed August 7, 2023.
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