As much as I love sex, I hate how much I have to think about before and during to make sure that I can have an enjoyable time and not have problems afterwards! And this is a common occurrence for anyone with a vagina.
It’s really easy for women in particular to contract urinal tract infections (UTIs) after sex because the urethra is shorter than a man’s which means it’s easier for bacteria to get into the urethra. Not to mention, the mechanics of sex means that, if everyone isn’t clean, bacteria can literally be pushed into the urethra.
Remember that UTIs don’t always show immediately – it takes time for the bacteria to develop and really cause a problem. For me, symptoms have started the next evening or even a couple of days later. But when they start, they really start!
Another issue that can be caused by sex is thrush. Thrush is when candida, which is a fungus that naturally occurs in the vagina, begins to grow uncontrollably. Bacteria introduced by sex can throw off the balance of the vagina, which causes the candida to overproduce.
UTIs and thrush cause a range of really uncomfortable symptoms. While they are manageable with medication, a UTI left untreated can lead to a kidney infection. So it’s best to avoid problems after intercourse all together! Keep reading to find out how to stay hygienic and avoid getting these nasty infections:
1. Start Clean
Starting clean is probably my most important tip. Whether this is his penis, your vagina or, really importantly, his and your hands. By reducing the amount of bacteria that you’re introducing to your vagina and urethra, you’re automatically reducing the chances that you’ll contract a UTI or thrush.
It’s important that you communicate this with your partner too. Don’t be nervous because, trust me, you’ll regret it in two days when it burns to pee (and yet you have to pee all the time!)
2. Stay Hydrated
Being able to pee immediately after sex is vitally important in maintaining a healthy urethra and bladder. Emptying your bladder completely will flush out all the bacteria that got into your urethra during intercourse.
3. Wipe The Right Way
Once you have finished peeing, make sure you wipe front to back (which you should do anyway!) to avoid re-introducing bacteria that you just flushed out. There’s always bacteria from your rectum that’s close to your vagina, so it’s important that you wipe away from it to avoid infections.
4. Use Lubrication
If your vagina isn’t lubricated enough (whether that’s naturally or otherwise), friction will occur which will damage the vaginal wall and possibly cause candida to multiply. There are a couple of ways to ensure your vagina is more lubricated.
The first is to ensure that you’re doing enough foreplay before intercourse. Your body knows when it’s not ready and it will communicate that with you. If you’re someone who doesn’t get ‘wet’ super quickly, communicate that with your partner and carve out more time for sex.
Some people struggle to produce natural lubrication and for me, it changes depending on where I’m at in my cycle. When this happens, use a water-based lubricant. Not only does it actually make sex better, but it also will stop you worrying about infections! Don’t be afraid to take the lube out half way through sex too – you know what your body needs!
5. Wash, Using the Right Products
When you take a shower after sex, make sure you use the right products. Using ones that are particularly perfumed, or even ones which are ‘make for your vagina’ can throw off your balance and cause thrush. Gynecological-approved products include Dove soap and Vagisil wash.
In the same thread, don’t turn up the shower super hot when you wash because candida love a warm place to multiply.
6. Clean Your Sex Toys
If you’ve used sex toys, make sure you clean them thoroughly after intercourse. By cleaning them, you remove any bacteria from growing which could affect you the next time you use them.
7. Sleep Nude!
Allowing air to the vagina will help to prevent thrush in particular, which likes a warm place to grow. If you’re not comfortable, or if your place is too cold to sleep nude in, opt for baggy pyjamas.
While the above won’t completely stop you having problems after sex, they’ll certainly help to prevent them. However, if you find that you’re consistently getting thrush or a UTI, speak to your healthcare provider as there could be something else going on.