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Is a Urinary Tract Infection an STI?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and are not contagious. However, they can be associated with or caused by sex.

What Causes UTIs?

Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enter and infect the urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys. Women are significantly more likely to get UTIs than men because they have shorter urethras (the tubes that transport urine from the bladder out of the body). This allows bacteria to access the urinary system faster and easier than in men. Women are also at higher risk of getting UTIs because their urethras are located near the vagina and anus. These areas are common sources of bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, that cause UTIs.

Can You Get a UTI From Sex?

You can get a UTI from the mechanisms of having sex, not from your sexual partners themselves. This is because sex makes it easier for bacteria that are present on the genitals to gain access to the urethra. If you already have bacteria in your urethra, having sex can move it up into the bladder, causing an infection there.

How to Avoid UTIs Associated With Sex

You can take steps before, during, and after sex to prevent a UTI. These include:

  • Peeing before and right after having sex to help clear bacteria from the urethra.
  • Not using diaphragms as birth control because they can trap bacteria in the bladder.
  • Not using spermicides, which can kill good bacteria.
  • Practicing good sexual hygiene, such as cleaning your genitals.

Many UTIs have no association at all with sex. They can also be linked to diabetes, menopause, catheters, kidney stones, pregnancy, and more.

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