Can condoms cause UTI?



At first glance, this question may sound a bit absurd, as people use condoms to prevent unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (including UTI).

Nevertheless, in practice, some individuals, especially women, may complain about frequent UTI even when their male partners use condoms.

Although, it is true that condoms would considerably reduce the overall risk of STIs & UTI in both males in females. However, in a small number of individuals, they may appear to increase the risk of UTI.

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However, it is worth noticing that condoms are not the cause of recurrent UTI in most such cases. Post-coital and recurrent UTI may occur due to many reasons.

Post-coital and recurrent UTI in women

As already mentioned, that condoms do not cause UTI. Nevertheless, some women are prone to recurrent UTI, and they may experience worsening of symptoms after even protected sex. Therefore, some people might wrongly assume that this post-coital UTI may have something to do with condoms.

The only exception to the rule could be an allergic reaction to condoms. Although this is an extremely rare thing nevertheless, the possibility is always there. In such cases, merely changing the brand to the type of condoms may help (like switching from latex to polyurethane condoms).

In medicine, recurrent UTI is a condition when urinary tract infection occurs more than thrice a year. Studies also show that the most common cause of such UTI is bacterial infections. In some individuals, bacteria continue to persist despite antimicrobial therapy.

In such individuals, sexual acts may sometimes exacerbate the condition, leading some individuals to think that it may be something related to condoms.

Some of the common causes of UTI in those using condoms:

Below are frequent reasons for UTI in those using condoms. However, it is worth noticing that UTI in these circumstances has nothing to do with condom use. Further, it is also vital to understand that women are more prone to UTI than men. It is due to anatomical differences. In females, the urinary tract is a lot shorter [1].

  • Change of sexual partner– may cause UTI or a worsening of the preexisting condition. This may not necessarily mean that a new partner is living with some disease. Nevertheless, during a sexual act, some exchange of body fluids occurs, some unprotected contacts happen, resulting in UTI in few cases. Sometimes, one of the partners may be a silent carrier of a specific infection. Thus, he or she may infect others.
  • Frequent and prolonged sexual acts – studies show that those who have prolonged and frequent sex are more likely to develop UTI. It happens because microbes residing in the vagina differ from those in the urinary tract, and during sexual acts, some of them may get pushed from the vagina to the urinary tract.
  • Previous UTI– in many individuals, eradicating urinary tract infection is a challenge. Thus, in them, there may be an exacerbation of infection after sex.
  • Obesity– usually obese individuals are at greater risk of UTI.
  • Diabetes– is a condition that significantly reduces the capability to fight infections. People living with diabetes are at greater risk from opportunistic infections.
  • Weak immunity – due to medication or disease may increase the risk of post-coital UTI.
  • Severe urinary or genital abnormalities or preexisting disease conditions.

Symptoms of post-coital UTI

Early identification of UTI may help prevent consolidation of infection. Early treatment may also reduce the risk of future episodes. Some of the symptoms of UTI are:

  • Burning sensation while peeing.
  • Frequent urge to urinate.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Abnormal or foul smell of urine.
  • Sometimes, it may even cause rectal pain, especially in men.

Preventing post-coital UTI

Since condoms do not cause UTI, one should continue using them. It is vital to remember that condoms can protect from many severe infections.

Below are some of the measures that might help prevent recurrent post-coital UTI [2]:

  • A simple measure like peeing after sex may help reduce the risk of post-coital UTI in many cases.
  • Drinking plenty of water may also help improve urinary health. However, one must avoid too much or coffee, soda, citric juices, or alcohol.
  • Keep genital areas clean by washing with warm water, moreover before sex.
  • Avoid using vaginal deodorants and scented tampons.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing like jeans.
  • Frequently empty your bladder.
  • Consider supplements like cranberry products that are known to help with recurrent UTI.
  • Post-menopausal women may consider using topical estrogens, as they are safe and known to reduce UTI risk.
  • In some cases, doctors may prescribe prophylactic antibiotics for preventing recurrent episodes of UTI.

Managing post-coital UTI

UTI, if frequent and severe, should always be treated by qualified medical personnel. Moreover, it is worth understanding that only a qualified professional can confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes, people may confuse UTI with other more severe medical conditions.

Some of the conditions that may initially look like UTI are vaginitis, sexually transmitted diseases, overactive bladder, cystitis, atrophic vaginitis, bladder cancer, and even some renal conditions. Thus, repeated episodes of post-coital UTI should be taken seriously, especially if they occur in those using condoms.

Primary treatment of UTI is with the help of antimicrobials/antibiotics. Usually, doctors would prescribe antibiotics after carrying out specific tests. A doctor may also recommend other treatment and prevention methods like supplements and topical estrogen.

To conclude, post-coital UTI is not rare, especially in women. However, condoms are not to be blamed for such a condition. There could be numerous reasons for such an issue. Sometimes, the condition can be managed without medical help. However, one should always seek medical attention for recurrent UTI.

References

  1. Dason S, Dason JT, Kapoor A. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of recurrent urinary tract infection in women. Can Urol Assoc J. 2011;5(5):316-322. doi:10.5489/cuaj.11214
  2. Kodner C, Gupton EKT. Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women: Diagnosis and Management. AFP. 2010;82(6):638-643.


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