Don't expect the bathroom trip to prevent pregnancy or STIs.
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You might have heard at some point that peeing should be the first item on your postcoital to-do list. It's one of those rules that sounds familiar but that you're not quite sure what the source was. The teen magazine that was your Bible? A '90s rom-com? Your know-it-all big sister?

The truth is that while peeing after sex may be helpful, it's not the end of the world if you don't do it right away or simply don't need to go. Here's what you need to know about the benefits of peeing after sex, plus the experts' answers to some common questions.

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Credit: Getty Images

Is peeing after sex necessary?

Peeing after sex hasn't been shown to have any definite health benefits so is not something most doctors would say is necessary, Lauren E. Stewart, MD, female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery specialist at NYU Langone Health, tells Health.

However, Dr. Stewart says that it's unlikely to be harmful, so if you feel better when you pee after sex, there's no need to stop.

Does peeing after sex help prevent UTIs?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when excess bacteria build up in the urinary tract, causing inflammation. Sexual intercourse is an independent risk factor for the development of UTIs in women, South Florida-based gynecologist oncologist Jonathan D. Black, MD, tells Health.

"Because the female urethra is in closer proximity to the vagina and anus, bacteria are more likely to enter the urethra," Dr. Black explains. "This makes women susceptible to UTIs—in fact, up to 30 times more susceptible than their male counterparts." Also, women have shorter urethras than men, which shortens the distance that bacteria must travel to reach the bladder. This is another reason for women's greater susceptibility to UTIs.

Dr. Black says peeing after sex may help to decrease the likelihood of developing a UTI, but there's no high-quality research to suggest that this actually prevents them.

"The only lifestyle changes that have been shown to reliably reduce the risk of UTIs are drinking at least 1.5 liters of plain water per day and avoiding spermicides," Dr. Stewart explains. (FYI, many common condom brands contain spermicide, so be sure to check the box.) However, even though research doesn't prove it, Dr. Stewart does believe that flushing bacteria out of the urinary tract to prevent infections makes sense.

And if you have recurrent UTIs and believe sex may be a trigger, Dr. Black does recommend a postcoital trip to the bathroom. Other things you can do to help prevent UTIs is always wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom, avoid long periods of time in wet bathing suits or workout clothing, and take over-the-counter cranberry supplements. Douching can also increase the risk of UTIs, so give it a swerve.

Does peeing after sex help prevent STIs?

Absolutely not, say the experts. "People contract STIs [sexually transmitted infections] by absorbing bacteria during sexual intercourse," says Dr. Black. "Voiding after intercourse will not prevent these bacteria from entering the body." This is because STIs in people having vaginal intercourse, generally speaking, are infections in the vagina, she explains. "Urinating after sex will not flush bacteria or viruses out of the vagina since the urinary opening is separate from the vaginal opening. On the other hand, urinating after sex may help to flush out bacteria that have entered the lower urinary tract during sex, and that's the thought behind why it might prevent UTIs."

Using barrier contraceptives (ie, condoms) is the most effective method for preventing STIs. Dr. Stewart also recommends getting yourself and your sexual partners tested for STIs frequently.

Does peeing after sex help prevent pregnancy?

Again, it's a definite no to this one—even if you go only seconds after ejaculation.

When somebody with a penis and somebody with a vagina have penetrative sex, ejaculate is released into the vaginal canal. But urine comes from the urethra—a completely separate opening. So releasing pee won't get anything out of your vagina.

"To reliably prevent pregnancy, you should use approved contraceptives, the most effective of which are prescribed by a doctor (things like IUDs, implants, and contraceptive pills)," says Dr. Stewart.

If you're trying to get pregnant and want to do everything you can to make it happen, you may have heard that waiting a few minutes before you get up (whether that's to go to the bathroom or somewhere else) helps sperm reach their target (an egg). But there's no science to back this up.

What does it mean if it burns when you pee after sex?

It's not uncommon to experience a mild, temporary burning sensation when you pee after sex, and it's usually nothing to worry about. "It's very likely nothing more than irritation of the urethra or urinary drainage tube which sits right next to the vagina in female anatomy," says Dr. Stewart.

Often, the burning resolves on its own. But if you experience additional urinary symptoms like severe urgency, frequency, fevers, chills, or back pain, you should contact your doctor.

If your urine is cloudy, appears red or pink, or smells foul or strong, you may have a UTI, which is treatable with prescription antibiotics. The time from exposure to the development of symptoms can vary depending on the bacteria, says Dr. Black, but generally is somewhere between three and seven days. In other words, a UTI that's triggered by sex won't appear directly after intercourse.

Dr. Black also points out that there are a variety of causes of burning after intercourse—ranging from anatomical makeup to infectious causes. "Only a thorough history and physical examination can determine the exact cause of burning during voiding after intercourse," he says.

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