I’ve had a new sex partner for the last 2 months or so, and during that time, I’ve had 2 bladder infections. Should we both get checked for something or is it just coincidence? I haven’t changed my diet and I stay pretty well hydrated.
— Anonymous, from Tumblr
Sarah: I have no idea if the two are connected, and I’ll leave it up to Debby to tell both of us. That said, I can’t pass up the opportunity to tell everyone to get tested regularly and often if you’re sexually active, especially between partners. I’ve heard the old rumor about peeing right after sex to prevent infection, as they’re caused by infectious agents not being totally cleared from the urinary tract. I have no idea if this works.
Debby: You should absolutely seek STI testing especially before having a new partner and/or any time you suspect something might be up, such as feeling like you have genital irritation, inflammation, or infection. I don’t know whether you’re a man or woman and what parts you have but some of this gets tricky. If you’re a woman having sex with a man, I hate to tell you this but we know a lot less about the male reproductive & genitourinary tract than we do the female genitourinary tract (and we still have a long way to go with females, too). It turns out that some men likely have bacteria in them that don’t cause any problems for them but these bacteria can be passed to partners and those partners can end up having vaginal irritation or recurrent UTIs, even though STI testing comes back negative. I’ve had several students in my human sexuality classes over the years who have been in this situation - either men who have had partner after partner develop genital and/or urinary irritation after having sex with them or women who have been on the receiving end. Scientists are still trying to get to the bottom of this, including some at the IU School of Medicine who are active in this area of research. You should definitely get tested. If your STI tests come back negative, you could try using condoms during sex with your partner to see if that keeps it from happening again in the future. And definitely mention it to your healthcare provider.