If you've ever wondered what you should do after sex when it comes to your hygiene, you're probably not alone. A common belief is that you should urinate after sex, but is it actually necessary? There isn't a definitive answer as to whether or not urinating after sex is a must, but here's what you need to know.
Do I Need to Pee After Having Sex?
"You should always urinate both before and after sexual activity," Leah Millheiser, MD, ob-gyn, FACOG, director of the female sexual medicine program at Stanford Health Care told POPSUGAR. "The reason you do it before sexual activity is [because] you don't want to have urine sitting inside the bladder because urine acts as a medium for bacteria to grow," she said. People with vaginas have fecal bacteria "floating around the opening of the vagina," and even if you have "perfect" hygiene after bowel movements, you can't avoid the E. coli bacteria which lives the intestines.
"From a functional perspective, [urinating before sex] is not a bad idea," Susan Khalil, MD, ob-gyn, the director of sexual health at Mount Sinai told POPSUGAR. She explained that urinating before sex "helps the muscles, and everything else as well, not store urine in the bladder for a prolonged period of time so that you actually don't get an infection. It does make sense. It just hasn't been supported with research." If you're having oral sex or masturbating, Dr. Khalil said it isn't necessary to urinate beforehand, but it is important to maintain good vaginal hygiene.
Although there isn't solid research in favor of urinating before sex, it may help reduce and prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). If you're prone to UTIs, Dr. Millheiser said, "If you can, take a shower and wash the genital and anal regions with soap and water to clean away as much bacteria as you can before sexual activity. Urinate before, urinate right after." Additionally, if you find that your vagina is on the drier side when you have sex, Dr. Millheiser said to use a lubricant (she recommended avoiding petroleum-based lubricants because they can cause vaginal irritation) to prevent UTIs.
If you aren't sufficiently aroused before sex, Dr. Khalil recommended using a water-based lubricant to prevent skin irritation and infections such as a yeast infection. Lube can help prevent various infections that happen as a result of trauma to the sensitive labia majora and labia minora skin, Dr. Khalil explained.
If you're following best practices and still getting UTIs, Dr. Millheiser encourages speaking to a medical provider who may recommend a prophylactic antibiotic, which is a low-dose antibiotic you take before sexual activity, to prevent UTIs.
Expert Tips For a Clean and Healthy Vagina
Dr. Khalil recommended avoiding methods like douching to clean the vagina because you want things to naturally move outward instead of potentially pushing bacteria into the vagina, which can lead to an infection. She also recommended avoiding vaginal wipes and products that are heavily scented. If you're not sure what to use to clean your vagina, Dr. Khalil advised using something that is generic and not heavily scented when you first cleanse your body. She also recommended washing with water throughout the day and after sex, and "patting dry the skin to make sure it's not irritated."
What to Do If You Have a Penis
If you have a penis, it's "not necessary" to pee after sex, Seth Cohen, MD, urologist, an assistant professor of urology and ob-gyn at NYU Langone told POPSUGAR. Why? "Because the urethral tracts are four times as long as the female urethral tract," he explained. Because of this, the urethral tract for people with penises is "much less commonly to get infected," according to Dr. Cohen.
You don't have to urinate after sex, but it's not a bad idea, Dr. Cohen said. Echoing Dr. Khalil, Dr. Cohen also recommended using soap and water to clean up after having sex. If you have foreskin, Dr. Cohen said to pull back the foreskin while showering to clean underneath it. He also recommended drying the foreskin and rolling it back over the penis after showering. "That's important to do because if they do not, they can certainly get a tight band of foreskin that is difficult to retract down the road," he explained.
Urinating after sex isn't necessary, but when it comes to best hygiene practices and avoiding infections, it can be a good habit to adopt.