Can men pass a UTI to women during sex?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are within the urinary tract and are the second most common infection in the body. UTIs are ubiquitous in the U.S., with more than 8 million individuals who see their doctor for treatment each year. However, men’s urinary tract infections are not nearly as common in women. Around 50% of all women will develop a urinary tract infection over the course of their life compared to only 12 percent of men.   

What is a UTI?

Urinary tract infections are bacterial infections usually from bacteria found in the urethra, bladder, or kidneys that multiply in the urine.  According to the National Kidney Foundation, one particular bacterium, E. Coli, causes 80 to 90 percent of all cases of UTIs.    

If left untreated, a UTI can lead to acute or chronic kidney infections, permanently damaging these vital organs that could lead to kidney failure.  In addition, these common infections are also a leading cause of sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection of the bloodstream.

The urethra is a tube, sort of like a canal or passageway, between the bladder and exterior of the body allowing urine to be passed and excreted from the body. A woman’s urethra is much shorter (4 cm or 1.5 inches long) compared to a man’s (20 cm or 7.8 inches) due to their anatomical gender differences in this area.  This anatomical difference is why women are more at risk for UTIs. Bacteria found in a woman’s urethra travel a much shorter distance to get inside a woman’s bladder significantly increasing the number of UTIs diagnosed in women compared to men. 

Can men pass a UTI during sex?

Even though men are less likely to develop a UTI, they may have concerns if their female partner’s UTI was passed from him to her during sex.  The short answer to this is no. 

UTIs are not sexually transmitted and, therefore, not contagious. A person with a UTI will not pass it on to their partner during sex. The partner of someone with a UTI will also not need treatment. 

However, doctors usually recommend avoiding sex until the infection completely clears. But again, this is not because the UTI can be passed from a man to a woman during intercourse.  Instead, it’s to avoid irritating the area of a woman’s urethra, allowing easier access for bacteria, possibly worsening the infection. 

How to minimize the risk of UTIs

Most individuals with a UTI will likely know it if they recognize the symptoms which include:

  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Urgent need to empty the bladder
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Urine that is cloudy, pink, or blood-tinged 
  • Noticeable mild discomfort in the lower abdomen, near where the bladder sits
  • Possibly fever, vomiting, or pain in the back or side

Individuals with any of these symptoms should see their doctor right away to be tested and treated for a UTI.

Below are easy steps anyone can take to reduce their chance of getting a UTI:

  • Drinking 100% cranberry juice is an effective means of preventing a UTI.  This juice contains a compound called proanthocyanidins that work to keep bacteria from adhering to the cells lining the bladder and urethra. It is best to buy unsweetened cranberry juice as the sugar from sweetened cranberry juice can irritate the urinary tract.


  • Always wipe from front to back after urinating or having a bowel movement


  • Always urinate before and after having sex


  • Don’t hold in urine for long periods of time – use the restroom as soon as possible when needing to eliminate urine.


  • Taking showers rather than baths can help


  • Wear underwear with a cotton crotch – avoid fabric that traps moisture


  • Drink plenty of water each day to help flush out bacteria


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911. 

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