Back

How Does a Urinary Tract Infection Spread and Are They Contagious?

A popular question amongst people (mostly women) is whether they can get or give a UTI to or from another person. Let us set you straight with some interesting facts about the spread of UTIs. Urinary tract infections are common bacterial infections that develop in the urinary tract (urethra, kidneys, ureters, and bladder.) In general, these infections are not contagious. You cannot spread a UTI to another person. What you can spread is the bacteria (mainly E. coli), that causes the UTI to occur. This mostly happens via sexual intercourse. Bacteria from your partner's genitals, anus, fingers, or even sex toys can get pushed into your urethra. From there, the bacteria can spread up to the bladder and then possibly to the kidneys. Although a UTI is not technically a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or contagious, sex can increase a person’s risk of developing a UTI. We know it’s not what you want to read, but there are ways to prevent them.

 

Treating a UTI

If you think you may have a UTI, your doctor will most likely take a urine sample to see which bacteria is present. UTIs are easily treated with antibiotics when caught early. Bactrim, Macrobid, or Cipro are the most common. Make sure to take the entire amount prescribed. If you stop taking them too early, the infection may come back or worsen. If the UTI is not treated when symptoms first arise, the infection can spread to the bladder and kidneys, causing more pain and illness. Untreated UTIs can also cause sepsis, which occurs when the bacteria enters the bloodstream. The longer the bacteria stay in your body, the more dangerous it gets. It may take about a week to completely cure the urinary tract infection fully, but you should definitely start to feel better after 48 hours of starting meds

 

Tips to Prevent UTIs During Sexual Activity

If you are one of the lucky ones that are prone to chronic UTIs from sexual activities, we got you. We have said it before, but it’s true. Condoms are the best way to avoid spreading bacteria to and from your partner. But if you are actually trying to conceive a baby, you can also try these helpful tips to keep your parts bacteria-free.

 

  • Pee before and after sex. This will help flush out any bacteria that can cause issues.
  • Take probiotics. Either take supplements or eat foods rich in probiotics like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and raw sauerkraut. 
  • Use condoms. Wait, we said that already.
  • Hop in the shower. If you can, rinse off with just water.
  • Drink more water: It helps flush out bacteria to keep the pH levels in the normal range.

 

With just a few simple lifestyle changes, sex-caused UTIs can be a thing of the past. Just stay hydrated and make sure to treat a UTI at the first sign of any symptom. Supplements and vitamins can also help keep your immune system up and bacteria away. For more tips on general UTI prevention, check out our guide to help prevent UTIs.