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The concept of gravity is a simple one. So, if you’re trying to get pregnant, resisting the urge to pee after sex with a person who has sperm makes sense, right?
The truth is, the belief that urinating after sex prevents pregnancy is a myth: Giving in to the urge to pee after penile-vaginal sex will have no impact on whether or not you and your partner have success in becoming pregnant — and it even has benefits for your health.
Read on to better understand why peeing after sex doesn’t impact conception, what peeing after sex can do for you, and what steps you can actually take if you’re trying to conceive (aka TTC) or preventing pregnancy.
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Does peeing after sex reduce your chances of getting pregnant?
First things first, let’s talk a bit about your anatomy and the differences between your vaginal canal, where sperm enters, and your urethra, where pee exits (here’s a handy diagram from Planned Parenthood if you’d like to grab a mirror and take a look to learn more about your body):
- Your vaginal canal leads to your cervix, followed by your uterus and your fallopian tubes. This is the path that sperm take to meet the eggs released by your ovaries during ovulation.
- Your urethra is a completely different (and significantly smaller) opening located between the vaginal opening and the clitoris, and it’s the path by which urine exits your body.
- Since the vaginal canal and urethral opening are separate, peeing will not “push” out sperm deposited in the vagina after ejaculation.
That said, upon standing up or using the toilet after sex, you may notice that some seminal fluid has leaked out. If you’re TTC, know that the speed at which sperm travel and the quantity of sperm in ejaculate (as many as 200 million or more in 1 milliliter!) make the loss of some seminal fluid a nonissue.
“The propulsive force with which the sperm are ejaculated is way stronger than the pull of gravity when you stand — hence why you can get pregnant with sex in the standing position too,” explains OB-GYN and Modern Fertility medical advisor Dr. Jenn Conti, MD, MS, MSc. And because of the very high concentration of sperm, “even if some fall out, you still stand a good chance at getting a ton inside through the cervix.”
If you’re aiming to avoid pregnancy, because of the reasons outlined above, peeing after penile-vaginal sex isn’t an effective birth control method. But the following contraceptive options are:
- Using a hormonal form of birth control: Hormonal methods of birth control include the pill, minipill, hormonal intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive implant, vaginal ring, and contraceptive patch.
- Using a non-hormonal form of birth control: Non-hormonal methods of birth control include the copper IUD and barrier methods like condoms.
- Using emergency contraception: While peeing after unprotected sex won’t prevent pregnancy, emergency contraception (aka Plan B) will and is available over the counter at pharmacies.
What are the benefits of peeing after sex?
Peeing before and after sex is a prevention method for urinary tract infections, or UTIs — along with wiping from front to back after using the bathroom, not douching or using feminine hygiene products on your genitals, and wearing cotton underwear. UTIs are an infection of any part of the urinary system (including the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys) and can happen to anyone, regardless of anatomy. That said, people with vulvas are at higher risk of UTIs because the distance between the urethra and the anus is much shorter than it is in people with penises.
Why does peeing after sex help you mitigate the risk of a UTI? Peeing after sex flushes bacteria out of the urethra that may have been introduced via a partner’s skin, or from bacteria transferred from the rectum during intercourse.
Can peeing after sex prevent STIs?
No. Although peeing after sex can help you flush out UTI-causing bacteria, it doesn’t have the same effect on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). “These bacteria/viruses are entering the vagina/cervix most often,” says Dr. Conti. “If you could flush out your uterus on demand like you flush out your bladder with pee, then maybe this would be the case.”
If you’re not TTC, you can use a barrier method of protection, such as an external or internal condom, to help prevent the contraction of STIs. But if you are, here are some conception-compatible methods of STI prevention:
- STI testing: Untreated STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and affect fertility, so it’s a good idea for you and your partner to get tested before TTC. Bacterial STIs (like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) can also impact pregnancy — but they can be cured through a course of medication, either before conceiving or during pregnancy and childbirth. Viral STIs (like HIV, HPV, herpes, and hepatitis B and C) are lifelong but can be managed with medication to mitigate pregnancy complications.
- Vaccination: There are available vaccines for two infections that can be transmitted sexually: HPV and hepatitis B.
No matter who you’re having sex with and whether or not you’re TTC, safe-sex practices (like STI testing and vaccination) are always important.
The bottom line
Peeing after sex won’t have an impact on your chances of conceiving — but given the fact that sexual intercourse can cause UTIs, you may want to make a practice of it as a method of prevention.
Dr. Jenn Conti is an OB-GYN and serves as an adjunct clinical assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.