Can I have sex with my (male) partner when he has a UTI?
March 20, 2012 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Can I have sex with my (male) partner when he has a urinary tract infection?

My partner has a medical condition which makes him very prone to urinary tract infections. I did some Google searches for UTIs and men, and since they are so much more common in women, all the men-centered advice was about how to not get it from your female partner. In other words, they all assumed it was the woman who had it. And I could not find anything about what to do if it's the man who has it.

He is currently in the middle of the second one he's had since he's been with me, and the pattern so far has been that he has a day or so where he is very tired and sleepy, has some sore muscles etc. Then he goes to the doctor, gets a prescription and spends a day feeling just awful. Then within 24 hours, he feels so much better and wants to cheer himself up with sex.

I have been hesitant to indulge him in this. I am not sure if it's possible for me to get the infection from him, or if I will damage him by engaging in these activities prematurely. He says there is no risk to me because it's a separate, um, channel, from where the UTI is. And he says that if he is feeling up for it, that means he is not in any pain and I won't hurt him.

So, what are the rules for this? I have told him to clarify with his doctor, but I would love some informal advice while we wait.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
It is not a separate "channel" -- both semen and urine exit the male body through the urethra. UTIs are caused by bacteria entering a man's urethra and traveling to the ureters, bladder, and kidneys; presumably, he will have bacteria within his urethra.

Within 24 hours, he feels better because the antibiotics are working, but he's likely contagious until the full course of medication has been completed.
posted by ellF at 3:47 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You should be fine if you wear a condom. If not... well, fluids travel. Women get UTIs from sex more frequently than men because the orifices are so close together. I wouldn't risk it if I were you.
posted by supercres at 3:49 PM on March 20, 2012

I don't know if the bacteria involved in a UTI will colonize in a human mouth/throat... but there might be other options to vaginal sex if you're willing!
posted by sbutler at 3:49 PM on March 20, 2012

Condoms are the answer to avoid catching his UTI from penis-in-vagina intercourse. He isn't at all accurate that there is no risk to you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:53 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am not a doctor, but I am kind of a whore. Also, and completely unrelatedly, in fact, I'm a guy who gets UTIs regularly.

UTIs, as you know, are infections somewhere along the tract, often nowhere near the penis itself, and are usually caused by E. Coli. Like most bacteria, E. Coli is all around (and in!) us. And it's not like someone with a UTI is like a fountain of E. Coli. He's not like, going to necessarily introduce E. Coli into your urethra, unless you're doing sex pretty funky. And it's not a disease where someone's technically "contagious," which I dislike hearing above; that's why it's not classified as a sexually transmitted disease.

Still, all told, I think the jury is a little bit still out on this one, and it seems like that's a great time to use condoms. (You're not going to endanger him either, by having sex with him, although he may sometimes regret it—the tail end of a UTI can still have painful ejaculation. But it's not like you're going to damage him!)

I think what he means by the "separate channel" comment (which, yes, not totally accurate or totally germane!) is that where ejaculate is mixed and coming from is not likely to be the same place that is the location of his UTI. Sorta irrelevant, but yes.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:05 PM on March 20, 2012

RJ Reynolds: "contagious", from a medical terminology perspective, means that something is communicable by contact. Bacterial load present in semen passing through the urethra in a man with a UTI would qualify.
posted by ellF at 4:08 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

First of all I would encourage him to drink cranberry juice or take cranberry tablets. Even though its a home remedy, cranberry juice, etc. is known to raise the pH in the urine and discourages bacterial growth.
Second, you may have a benign type of vaginal bacteria, such as gardnerella(sp?) that may not bother you, but after a long time in the saddle, may travel up his urethra and keep giving him uti's. That and E.coli, can cause lots of problems when they're not where they usually are. You may want to get yourself checked and also make sure he takes his full course of treatment.
posted by PJMoore at 4:28 PM on March 20, 2012

For a slightly more official response, try using Planned Parenthood's chat thingie. It purports to offer advice about STDs, and this may qualify.

Also, since he's on antibiotics, this implies that he has a doctor treating him, can you ask this doctor for advice?
posted by sciencegeek at 4:42 PM on March 20, 2012

(whoops missed your last paragraph about going to talk to the MD; my apologies.)
posted by sciencegeek at 4:43 PM on March 20, 2012

I can't speak to transmission, but as a male who has frequent UTIs, when in the midst of infection, ejaculation feels like my penis is on fire on the inside and that makes me sad and very much reminds me of the time I was catheterized with a too-large catheter. (which made me cry).
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:57 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

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