do condoms cause utis

Do Condoms Cause UTIs?

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are a pain in the… well, urethra. 

Not only are they incredibly uncomfortable, but they can also potentially lead to bladder and kidney infections, not fun!

Since the beginning of time, women have been told to pee after sex. While there’s little scientific evidence on whether this actually helps prevent UTIs, it’s coming from a good place and there’s no harm in doing it. Females have a higher risk of developing UTIs because the distance between the urethra to the rectum is shorter than in males. We’ve been doing everything we can to prevent the dreaded stinging and constant need to pee that comes with a UTI.

So, that leaves us with the question – could another habit of ours be causing them? Could our efforts to prioritize our sexual health by using condoms be hurting our urinary tracts? Do condoms cause UTIs?

It’s time to find out!

Condoms and UTIs

There is very limited research on the link between condoms and UTIs. One study suggested that a group of women who used condoms regularly had a higher risk of developing UTIs. 

Before you start second-guessing your sexual health habits, listen to this. The condoms that they used all had a specific type of spermicide. The vaginal membrane is highly absorbent, meaning it can absorb chemicals more easily than other parts of the body, which can increase the risk of infections. Condoms containing spermicide may contribute to bacterial growth, potentially leading to a urinary tract infection. 

On the flip side, using the right condoms may actually help prevent UTIs. That means opting for a high-quality condom that’s coated with a water-based lube. 

Even if certain types of condoms slightly increase your risk of developing a UTI, you have to weigh the pros and cons. The risk of contracting or transmitting an STI or having an unplanned pregnancy outweighs any potential risk of a UTI. 

What Really Causes UTIs

Bacteria is all around us, on us, and inside us. It’s also on the person (or people) you’re having sex with. Bacteria, usually E.coli, also happens to be the culprit behind UTIs. When you’re having sex, bacteria from your partner or even from your own rectum can enter your urinary tract and lead to an infection. No, that doesn’t mean you or your partner are dirty, you just happen to be on a planet that’s full of wonderful microorganisms.

As luck would have it, certain people are more susceptible to UTIs than others. That includes those who are immunocompromised or pregnant, and of course, people who are assigned female at birth (AFAB). An estimated 20% of AFAB people will have a UTI at some point in their lives.

UTIs can cause symptoms like:

  • Frequent urination
  • Pain when you pee
  • Cloudy, foul-smelling pee
  • Pressure in the lower pelvis
  • Pain in the abdomen, pelvic area, or lower back

Sex is often the culprit behind UTIs because of the exposure to bacteria, but they can also be caused by masturbating, wearing too tight of underwear, and anything else that potentially exposes your urethra to extra bacteria.

Good Condom Habits

Condoms are an essential part of sexual wellness, especially if you have multiple sexual partners or you’re relying on them for birth control. 

Remember that it’s not condoms that can cause UTIs, but rather not choosing the right condoms. We care about the health of your urethra, so here are some tips to keep in mind to keep it healthy, without sacrificing your sex life.

Choose the Right Condoms

Here’s the thing, not all condoms are created equal. When choosing condoms you’ll want to keep in mind the quality, the lube that they’re coated with, your or your partner’s allergies, and if they’re compatible with any sex toys you’re using.

There’s a lot of talk about latex allergies when it comes to condoms. But less than 1% of the population is actually allergic to latex. This is likely from people assuming that reactions to other chemicals in condoms are due to latex. 

Need some condom guidance?

LELO’s HEX condoms may be just what you’re looking for. The ultra-thin condoms are designed with an innovative hexagonal structure that is textured on the inside for a better grip. Don’t let the ultra-thin title fool you, these are just as strong as they are thin. Which means extra protection without compromising pleasure. 

Packing heat? 

The HEX Respect XL large condoms have the durability and flexibility to accommodate for bigger sizes, with all the benefits of the originals.  

Preserve Their Shelf Life

Believe it or not, condoms do have an expiration date. Expired condoms are more likely to break, potentially increasing your risk of UTIs, STIs, and pregnancy. 

Remember these tips to care for your condoms (and your urinary tract):

  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place 
  • Use silicone or water-based lube
  • Carefully remove condoms immediately after ejaculation

UTI? Not Today!

While this doesn’t necessarily have to do with condoms, we needed to throw a few extra UTI prevention tips in here:

  • Thoroughly wash any sex toys after each use (and between partners)
  • Change condoms or wash toys before hole hopping – aka moving between the butt and vagina
  • Use a water-based lube to reduce friction and increase pleasure 
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid feminine hygiene products like douches or scented sprays that contain fragrances or chemicals 

UTI Got you Down?

If you do have a UTI, be sure to watch for symptoms like fever, extreme fatigue, pain in the lower back or flank, and nausea or vomiting – these are all signs it’s time to seek urgent care.

For those who get recurring UTIs, be sure to talk to your doctor about your options. While high-quality condoms don’t generally increase the risk of UTIs, they may not be the best option for your body. Your provider can also help rule out any other underlying causes that may be contributing to your infections.

Don’t forget that condoms are an important part of sexual health and the peace of mind that they bring may leave you more open to pleasure and connection.