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UTIs caused by condoms?
fuzzerz posted:
Hi, I am a woman and have been in a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend for almost a year. The first few months of our relationship we always used condoms during sex and I got a UTI almost every time after we had sex even though I would pee afterwards. Then I got an IUD and we both tested clean for STI's so we started having unprotected sex and I have never gotten a UTI from sex since then. I am wondering what could have been causing my UTIs since I am not allergic to latex at all in any other form, and we were using lubricated condoms that did not have spermicide. Could I be allergic to the lubrication? Or is there a special type of latex in condoms that I could be allergic to? I may have to take my IUD out due to medical concerns and would really like to know so that I hopefully may prevent UTI's in the future.

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For women, what causes you to have UTI's after sex?
  • Using condoms
  • Not using condoms
  • Either way
  • Spermicide/Position/Other
  • Don't get UTI's from sex
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counterso responded:
UTIs from sex are mostly a combination of hygiene and soft tissue damage. I understand that you would urinate after sex and that didn't seem to help. So it may be that your sex practices have changed a bit from the lack of condoms. The pummeling action of intercourse can cause inflammation of the urethra which then later catches more bacteria due to its irritation. Perhaps without the condom your sessions of intercourse are shorter or less vigorous because the sensations are more direct?

In addition to the hygiene maintenance, you can also take a cranberry supplement twice a day (like TheraCran) which discourages any e.coli bacteria (found in feces, which is why it's a cleanliness issue) from colonizing in the bladder even when they do enter the urethra. How cranberry works can be seen in this video:

You and your partner may need to use more soap and scrub if UTIs are a particular problem for you, as the bacteria stay in greasy material which only washes off your body with soapy scrubbing. Most people are not very diligent in this area, so you shouldn't feel singled out.

While it's possible you could have an allergic reaction to latex or lubricants, I doubt that it would be isolated to UTI symptoms if so. You would much more likely have a broad reaction to them in the whole area if you were allergic.

Those are just some possible explanations of what's going on.

You can also work on strengthening your overall immune system, which will help prevent infections of all kinds. That includes healthful diet, adequate rest, low stress, and probiotic support.
raziel1687 responded:
Ever since me and my boyfriend started using condoms, I've had way more frequent UTIs (like every 3-5 months). Before I was on BC, but didn't use condoms, and I rarely got UTIs.
counterso replied to raziel1687's response:
UTIs are a sanitation issue. With the condom on your BF may be feeling he has more liberty and is more aggressive during sex, spreading the bacteria from your rectal area to your vagina. He may also be battering you and causing the delicate tissues around the urethral opening to be inflamed and more susceptible to bacterial infection.

Aside from preventative measures like TheraCran, urinating after sex, and using a good soap on your rectal area prior to sex, the condoms aren't causing UTIs themselves. It's contamination if it's a UTI. It's possible you have a latex allergy and that it's not a UTI at all (unless your doctor has tested you and found it to be a UTI). Try polyvinyl condoms instead of latex condoms too, and see if that makes things any better.
efuller93 responded:
I have a similar situation to you. When my boyfriend and I first started dating we used condoms and I had a constant UTI. I was taking the cranberry supplements, vitamin C, I was even drinking straight lemon juice, going pee after sex, and I would shower and soap up. Nothing worked. I just chalked it up to having too much sex. I had started birth control right when we started having sex, just as an extra precaution. Well we eventually stopped using condoms. I noticed that my UTI's had gone away. I thought it might have been the latex, even though I had never had a reaction to it before. But then we wanted to experiment with the tingly lubricant and what you know... I got an UTI. So I find that it is the lubricant that gives me UTI's. If I don't use it, I don't get UTI's. I also want to go off of my birth control for medical reasons but I don't want UTI's!
counterso replied to efuller93's response:

The urethral opening is a very sensitive area, and the pummeling action of sex can make it more so. Many people have mild allergic reactions to latex or to various lubricants that aren't evident except during sex when exposure occurs with friction in very sensitive parts of your body.

If you were taking any cranberry supplements other than TheraCran or Ellura, you were wasting your money. None of the other 31 brands have enough of the proanthocyanidins to actually provide benefit. Aside from that, cranberry PACs only bind to the p-fimbria of e.coli bacteria, not the type-1 fimbria. So cranberry use only reduces your risk of a UTI by 50%, not 100%. And if you weren't using TheraCran or Ellura, your risk reduction was almost zero. Cranberry juice is as reliable as either supplement mentioned, but many people hate the taste, so choose a pill. Vitamin C and lemon juice have no benefit whatsoever.

There are many, many lubricants. Talk to your GYN about surgical lubricants that you might try that are free from chemicals or perfumes or whatever it is that is causing the inflammation of your urethra and entry of bacteria. Your GYN can also talk to you about non-latex condom options, and just generally about things you can do to reduce the risk of UTIs. They're certainly no fun, and they can become life-threatening, so nobody wants to you get them over and over.

It's not an uncommon problem and your doctor will have plenty of suggestions for you to try until you find one that works reliably without the infections occurring.

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