Banana held by hand and covered in lubrication.
Banana held by hand and covered in lubrication.

Post-Sex Best Practices: UTI Prevention, Peeing & Other Common Questions

Everything you need to know about what to do after sex.

Sex is supposed to be fun, a time where you can relax and let all your worries melt away…

Until afterwards, when the deed is done and you’re in bed about to drift off, and a few sneaky questions come to mind and the panic begins to snowball. Do I need to pee? Have I washed my hands? Am I pregnant?

Needless to say, that post-sex clarity can spoil the mood.

But, don’t worry. We’re here to answer the burning questions that keep you up at night and give you the post-sex best practices that you need to stay safe and hygienic. 

Plus, we have tips and advice from sex experts: Evie Plumb, an accredited sex educator, psychosexual and relationship therapist and founder of the sex positive platform, Cliterally the Best, as well as user research manager and sexologist at Lovehoney, Elisabeth.

People in bed

Post-sex best practices — what to do after sex

Should you shower after sex?

There’s no need to rush off to the shower straight after sex. But, if you feel like you want to, then go ahead!

Sex is exercise, and it can get pretty sweaty and messy, so gently cleaning yourself is recommended to reduce the risk of infections. Plus, jumping in the shower before you sleep might help you to sleep better, as you’ll be clean and more comfortable.

Ideally, you should wash around your genitals (rather than the inside). Lovehoney’s Elisabeth explains that “the vagina is self-cleaning and generally does not require additional cleansing methods. The vulva area should be cleaned with water only or a soap that has an adjusted pH value”. 

For those with penises and a foreskin, you should pull the foreskin back (gently!) and wash underneath to prevent buildup of cells and fluids.

If you’ve used sex toys, make sure you clean them afterwards — although it can probably wait until the next morning if you’re too tired. Cleaning them will prolong their shelf life, as well as preventing them from holding onto bacteria and making sure they’re clean for your next round.

Don’t forget, your bedsheet hygiene is important, too! Try and change your sheets as soon as possible after sex, especially if the sheets hadn’t been changed recently or the sex was particularly messy. Here’s how often you need to change your sheets — and it’s quite often!

What is precum?

Precum. A banana covered in white fluid

Precum, also known as pre-ejaculate, is a fluid that is released from the penis during arousal and occurs before ejaculation, acting as a lubricant during sex.

Precum, itself, doesn’t contain any sperm, but it’s possible for sperm to leak into precum.

Ejaculation comes through the urethra, the same as precum. Sometimes after ejaculating, sperm can linger in the urethra and mix with precum while being released.

How often can precum cause pregnancy?

According to research, it is estimated that around 20% of people who use the ‘pull-out method’ will become pregnant in a year.

This is because even if you pull out before climax, precum can still enter your partner’s vagina, potentially leading to unintended pregnancy.

How to confirm whether sperm went inside?

Unfortunately, the only way to confirm if sperm has entered the reproductive system is after a positive pregnancy test (and sometimes they aren’t 100% reliable).

Peeing after sex

Cliterally the Best’s, Evie Plumb, mentions her golden rule, “always pee after sex”. She believes this is a post-sex practice you shouldn’t skip. Peeing after sex “reduces the chances of a UTI as it flushes any bacteria out of the urethra”. 

Check out our article To Pee Or Not To Pee: Debunking The Myths Of Sexual Hygiene.

Does peeing after sex prevent pregnancy?

Evie explains that peeing after sex “does NOT reduce your chances of getting pregnant and STIs, only condoms will protect you from both”.

During sex, ejaculate enters the vaginal canal. Whereas, pee is released from the urethra — the two separate openings means that peeing after sex won’t prevent pregnancy. The sperm will already be on its way to fertilise an egg.

How long should you wait to pee after sex when trying to conceive?

As we mentioned above, the sperm and urine travel through separate pathways. Peeing after sex shouldn’t get in the way of getting pregnant, so go with the flow!

There is no need to wait a certain amount of time before peeing after sex.

Burning pee after sex female

According to Evie Plumb, “there are several reasons it may burn when you pee after sex”.

Why does it burn when I pee after sex?

Evie explains the possible reasons for why it may burn to pee after sex. 

She says: “It may be that you were not well enough lubricated or had a rough session and you have micro tears around the area and peeing on that is causing the sting. It could also be a sign of a UTI, especially if the stinging persists much after sex. Burning when you pee after sex can also be a sign of STIs like Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Herpes or Trichomoniasis”. 

“The best thing to do (if it persists) is go to your local sexual health clinic and they can do the relevant tests and examinations to work out the cause”.

“Please remember, if it is an STI it’s nothing to be ashamed of, we are all human and we can get an STI from just having sex once.”

My boyfriend keeps giving me a UTI

If you frequently find that after sex you have a UTI, it could have been passed on by your boyfriend or partner if they themselves are carrying bacteria.

However, it may also be caused by bacteria around your anus. Bacteria that cause UTIs live in the area around your anus. During sex, bacteria from the back can shift towards the front, near the genitals. If the bacteria ends up travelling into the bladder from the urethra, it can lead to a UTI.

To try and minimise the risk of developing a UTI, you can try the following:

  • Make sure everyone involved is practising good hygiene, like washing hands and privates — including the anus and bum area
  • Use lube as dryness can sometimes irritate the urethra and cause infections or discomfort
  • Stay hydrated — this helps flush away toxins and bacteria in the body

If the problem persists, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor about it. They can give you more personalised advice and make sure there’s nothing else going on.

Sex toys with flowers on blue background. Clean your sex toy

Thrush after sex

Thrush is a yeast infection caused by a species of fungus that lives in the vagina and can occur after sex.

Thrush can occur if the balance or pH of bacteria changes (such as if you’re pregnant or stressed). This causes the fungus to grow and thrive, leading to thrush symptoms, which include:

  • White discharge (like cottage cheese)
  • Itching and irritation around vulva
  • Soreness and stinging during sex or urinating
  • Redness

Why do I get thrush after sex?

You can develop thrush after sex if your partner introduces bacteria into your vagina or genitals. You may also transmit thrush via sex toys, especially if they’re not cleaned properly.

If you end up with thrush, it’s likely you contracted it from your partner, so ensure they also get treatment.

Why is my vagina itchy after sex?

An itchy vagina after sex isn’t uncommon, and can normally be resolved with simple treatment.

If you find that your vagina is often itchy after sex, it could be down to a few possible reasons:

  • Too much friction during sex or not enough lubrication — can irritate the skin and cause itchiness
  • Semen allergy
  • Latex allergy 
  • Dryness — vaginal dryness means the vagina isn’t lubricated properly and that can lead to itchy, irritated skin
  • pH imbalance — can be caused by unprotected sex, douching, antibiotics or periods
  • Infections such as thrush (yeast) or bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • STDs that cause itching — like Trichomoniasis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, genital herpes, genital warts

See a medical professional if your itching doesn’t improve after a few days or if you also have a rash, sores, or other symptoms that may indicate an STD.

Can men get thrush?

While not as common as women, men can actually get thrush, too.

According to Evie from Cliterally the Best, the symptoms are similar, and can include:

  • Irritation, burning and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin
  • White discharge (like cottage cheese)
  • Bad smell
  • Difficulty pulling back the foreskin

Evie also explains that “thrush is caused by a fungus called candida that is normally harmless and likes to grow in warm, moist conditions and develops if the balance of bacteria changes e.g sex.

Thrush can also affect other areas of skin, such as the armpits, groin and between the fingers and even the mouth.”

If you’re experiencing itchy balls, here’s what it could mean and what to do about it.