In this week's Sex IDK column, Emma McGowan, certified sex educator and writer, answers your questions about whether you should pee after sex.
Q: Should I always pee after having sex?
The short answer? Yes. If you’re a person with a vagina, it’s imperative to pee after sex. If you’re a person with a penis, you can skip the bathroom run. The reason for that difference has to do with the anatomy of the vulva and vagina — so let’s get into it.
Your genitals have three holes: your anus, your vaginal opening, and your urethra. (Or two holes — your anus and your urethra — if you have a penis.) The urethra is where urine comes out of your body, and, unlike the other two holes, it really needs to be a strictly one-way street.
Because the urethra is so close to the anus and the vaginal opening — and between the vaginal opening and the clitoral head, two really important parts for most people with vagina’s sexual pleasure — bacteria can sometimes get pushed in there during sex. And, as I said, it’s really supposed to be a one-way street, so a build-up of bacteria can lead to a urinary tract infection.
Now, penises have urethras too. But the urethra in a penis is much further away from the anus than is the urethra in a vagina, especially when it’s erect. Most of the icky bacteria comes from the anus, so penises are safe from this particular sexual discomfort.
Anyone who ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) knows that you want to avoid one at all costs. It’s like someone pouring water spiked with jalapeño through your urethra ever time you pee. And you have to pee a lot. But when you go to the bathroom expecting a stream as forceful as the Niagara Falls, all you get is a little tinkle. It’s the worst, and the only way to fix it is to take antibiotics, which often come with their own unwanted vulva-related side effects.
In addition to peeing after sex, there are other things you can do to reduce the likelihood of getting a UTI. Unfortunately, there’s not a super lot of science to back up home remedies. Still, many people find that taking cranberry extract pills or regularly drinking cranberry juice can help with prevention, if not treated. The little science that does exist suggests that the juice creates an acidity level in your urine that makes it difficult for bacteria to thrive. It’s also not going to hurt you to give it a shot if you’re suffering from frequent UTIs, so I’d say try it if you’re suffering.
So, yes. Please make sure to always pee after sex, no matter how blissed-out or tired you are. In fact, pee before sex too! Doing both ensures that any bacteria is flushed out both before and after, which ups your chances of not getting a UTI.