How Do Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Impact Sexual Function?

How Do Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Impact Sexual Function?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common bacterial infections that affect the urinary system. While they can occur in both men and women, they occur more often in women. The most common symptoms of UTIs include painful urination, the frequent urge to urinate, and lower abdominal pain.

However, their impact on sexual function is an important aspect of UTIs that often goes overlooked. Recurrent UTIs, in particular, can have a significant effect on a person’s sexual health and well-being.

The Impact of Recurrent UTIs on Sexual Function

  • Pain and discomfort: One of the most noticeable ways recurrent UTIs can affect sexual function is by causing pain and discomfort. The inflammation and irritation of the urinary tract, characteristic of UTIs, can make sex painful. Additionally, the fear of experiencing pain during sex may lead to anxiety, reduced desire, and avoidance of sexual activity, negatively impacting a person’s overall sexual health.
  • Psychological and emotional impact: Dealing with the frequent recurrence of UTIs can take a toll on an individual’s mental health. The stress and anxiety associated with chronic UTIs can lead to reduced libido and sexual dissatisfaction. Furthermore, it can strain a person’s intimate relationships, leading to decreased sexual intimacy.
  • Fear of infection: Recurrent UTIs can result from factors such as sexual activity, improper hygiene, or a person’s predisposition to get UTIs. Knowing this may lead to a fear of transmitting or acquiring infections during sexual intercourse, causing individuals to avoid sexual encounters altogether or disrupt the spontaneity of intimacy.
  • Antibiotic treatment: The frequent use of antibiotics to manage recurrent UTIs can lead to secondary complications such as yeast infections, which can further impact one’s sexual health. This is because antibiotics can alter the natural balance of microorganisms in the genital and urinary tract, which can cause yeast infections.

It is clear that recurrent UTIs have a negative impact on a person’s sexual function and well-being. In fact, a 2022 study of 697 women of reproductive age who presented with UTI at a urologic clinic in eastern India showed that the women with recurrent UTIs (143 of the 697) had lower Female Sexual Function Index scores and higher Female Sexual Distress Scale scores than the other women.

Fortunately, there are some steps that one can take to address the impact of recurrent UTIs on sexual function. First, open and honest communication with a health care provider and sexual partner is crucial in addressing the sexual impact of recurrent UTIs. Seeking medical advice and discussing concerns with a trusted provider can help them tailor a treatment plan that will minimize your discomfort and risk of infection.

Prevention is also key. One can reduce the recurrence of UTIs through preventive measures like proper hygiene, staying hydrated, and urinating before and after sexual intercourse. This may also help alleviate concerns about infection transmission during sex, thereby reducing one’s anxiety.

Lastly, it can be worthwhile to explore alternative sexual activities or ways to foster intimacy between partners that do not cause pain or discomfort. This is an essential part of maintaining sexual satisfaction during UTI episodes.

Overall, recurrent UTIs can have a significant impact on sexual function due to the pain, discomfort, and psychological stress they cause. Nevertheless, by taking a holistic approach to managing recurrent UTIs and their impact on sexual function, individuals can improve their overall well-being and maintain a satisfying and fulfilling sex life.


  • American Urological Association. (2019). Adult UTI: Guidelines for Diagnosis, Treatment, and Follow-up. Retrieved from

  • Foxman, B., & Barlow, R. (2002). Urinary Tract Infection: Self-Reported Incidence and Associated Costs. Annals of Epidemiology, 10(8), 509-515.

  • Gavard, J. A., Harmon, J., & Van Arsdale, A. (2010). Impact of urinary incontinence on self-efficacy and quality of life. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 8, 17.

  • Mindly, D., George, M., & George, M. (2017). Impact of Urinary Incontinence on Self-Efficacy and Quality of Life. Journal of Primary Care & Community Health, 8(4), 298-305.

  • Mondal, S., Noori, M. T., & Pal, D. K. (2022). Sexual dysfunction in female patients of reproductive age group with recurrent urinary tract infection-a cross-sectional study. AJOG global reports2(4), 100083.

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