UTI is not the same as STI

Posted On: March 22, 2023

UTI is not the same as STII’ve had a urinary tract infection (UTI) twice in the last one month – each time just a bit after 24 hours of penile-vaginal penetrative sex. The first incident occurred at 3:30 a.m., and the second at 12:30 a.m. when I felt this urgent urge to pee 3 times in 5 minutes. Each time, I chose to go to the A&E near my place because of my commitments that day i.e. needed to feel better quickly.

I am so fed up with people not understanding what UTI is.

The few people I told:

  • Asked how I know my UTI was caused by sex. My UTI happened AFTER sex and likely BECAUSE of sex since it was not long after just like my previous episodes of UTI with other sexual partners.
  • Asked if I know it was his bacteria. (I would NEVER say it is his bacteria – but it is bacteria. Bacteria is everywhere. The bacteria that went into my bladder is likely to be bacteria already IN or near my urethra.)
  • Asked why I had UTI even when we had protected sex i.e. with the external male condom (The penis with condom over was IN my vagina NOT urethra. UTI is caused by bacteria being pushed INTO the bladder. Bacteria are NOT the same as a virus.)
  • Reacted as if it is the fault of my sexual partner – calling him dirty/ unhygienic.
  • Called me stupid because I had sex with the same person who caused me UTI as if he carries UTI! (I’ve had UTI from other sexual partners and it is NOT their fault. It is NOT my fault. This is just shit that happens sometimes!)

I get these kind of comments/ questions because of the sexual ignorance of my friends. If my educated friends can be confused about UTI, then I figured this might be worth retelling.

Luckily this recent sexual partner is more sexually educated than my previous sexual partners who also caused me to have UTI. He was cool about it whilst my previous sexual partners did this out of their ignorance:

  • One went for full STI test immediately (even though no STI will show up so soon after sex) just so he can say he didn’t give a STI to me. I never once accused him of passing me an STI.
  • Another went for a full STI test and a penicillin jab (even though I repeatedly explained UTI is not STI). Again, to have the satisfaction of declaring to me he is clean.

How can completely educated people otherwise be so ignorant about what UTI is and keep confusing a UTI with an STI? Because they genuinely don’t know the difference! We all have a urethra and we all need sex ed including about UTIs!

Women get UTIs more frequently because their urethra is shorter, making it easier for bacteria to enter into the bladder. The urethra is located near the openings of the vagina and anus, meaning there’s more opportunity for bacteria from both those areas to spread—or be wiped—into the urethra.  It can be painful and a hassle but it is common. It happens with or without sex. It is treatable. It is NEITHER a human failing NOR a death sentence.

Get educated and quit shaming your friends or yourself if you have a UTI (or for that matter an STI)!

P.S. Peeing immediately after sex can help prevent UTI, and I DID DO IT!

(Image description: NHS in blue text in white box, in blue background with nhs.uk in white text)

Reference: NHS website. (2022, May 6). Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Nhs.Uk. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-tract-infections-utis/

Written: 27 June 2022

About Dr. Martha Tara Lee

Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.

She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in May 2018. In practice since 2009, she is the only certified sexuality educator and certified sexuality educator supervisor by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.

Often cited in the media, Dr. Lee is the appointed Clinical Sexologist for Singapore Cancer Society. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She has published four books: Love, Sex and Everything In-BetweenOrgasmic YogaFrom Princess to Queen and {Un}Inhibited.

Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.

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