If you're actively having sex, you've probably heard that you should pee afterward if you want to avoid a urinary tract infection (UTI), because while barrier methods like condoms can help protect you against many sexually transmitted infections, not even they can shield you from the painful, burning symptoms of a UTI.
That's because the thrusting that happens during sex pushes bacteria from the labia and the surrounding area up the urethra and into the bladder, Robert Borrowdale, MD, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn in California, told POPSUGAR. "Peeing will help kill any bacteria that could have been pushed up before it gets into the walls of bladder," he said. "But it can only be preventative if done right after to flush out bacteria." That means you should go as soon as you're able, ideally within a few minutes.
It can take two to three days for bacteria to build and develop into a UTI, Dr. Borrowdale explained. If you start showing symptoms like needing to use the bathroom more frequently, burning or itching with urination, pelvic pain, or strong-smelling urine, you should consult your family doctor or ob-gyn. The fastest and most effective way to treat a UTI is with an antibiotic.
So, while peeing right after sex isn't exactly a foolproof way of preventing a UTI, it can certainly help. To further avoid an infection, remember to stay hydrated and practice good hygiene — and if you find that UTIs are a recurrent issue for you, talk to your doctor.