Enter: The notorious bathroom trip. Going pee washes out the urinary tract, clearing away some of that bacteria before it can reach the bladder and proliferate like crazy, thereby helping some women avoid UTIs. For this reason, you’ve probably been hitting the toilet pre- and post-coital throughout your sexual history. But is it actually essential?
According to Sarah Horvath, M.D., a gynecologist in Philadelphia, it’s probably not medically necessary for you to pee directly before sex. What’s more, Horvath tells Women’s Health that most women don’t need to stress too much about peeing after sex, either, unless they’re prone to UTIs. But frequent UTI-sufferers should make even more of a point to adopt good sexual health practices: Make sure your partner is clean (both in terms of STIs and hygeine), wash your hands frequently, and wear condoms with new partners. You should also stay hydrated— this keeps fluids moving through your urinary tract and helps flush out bacteria, Horvath says.
Watch a hot doctor explain whether you have to treat a yeast infection:
(Get the latest health, weight loss, fitness, and sex intel delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our “Daily Dose” newsletter.)
Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University, agrees. “Although I always encourage my patients to [pee] before and after sex, there really isn’t ton of scientific data to support the habits,” she tells Women’s Health. “I do encourage all of my patients to stay well hydrated, and to [pee] frequently.”
If you get UTIs often, Minkin recommends checking in with a health care provider, and incorporating cranberry juice into your daily diet. Or, if that’s too much sugar, try cranberry extract pills, which are available at health stores. “Cranberry keeps the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder and setting up shop there,” she says.
“But what if I just don’t have to go?” you may wonder, or, “Must I immediately ruin the post-coital moment by hurtling out of bed to empty my bladder?” According to Horvath, there’s no rush: Just go to the bathroom the next time you feel the need. Holding in urine can up your odds of developing a UTI or bladder infection. So even if it dampens the romance, if you gotta go, go.