Got a symptom but not sure what's causing it? Use our award-winning symptom checker to find out – it's free!

×
30th June, 202112 min read

Why does it burn when I pee after sex?

Medical reviewer:Dr Ann Nainan
Author:Carla Hüsselmann
Last reviewed: 09/07/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

What is painful peeing after sex?

Feeling pain or burning when you pee is known as dysuria. It’s a common symptom among people with a vagina, but it can also affect those with a penis – no matter how old or young you are.

Painful peeing is often a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) – an infection in your bladder and/or the tube that carries pee from your bladder (urethra). But if it hurts to pee after you’ve had sex, it may be because the skin around your genitals has been irritated during sex. For example, your skin may have reacted to a lubricant or condom you used or your vagina may not have made enough natural lubrication (fluids), leading to sore skin and a burning sensation after sex.

But sometimes, painful peeing after sex may be a sign of a more serious condition that will need medical attention, like a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Common causes of burning when peeing after sex

When it hurts to pee after sex, the cause may be external – related to the skin around the opening of your urethra – or it may be internal – caused by a change inside your genitals, bladder, prostate (for people with a penis) or behind your pubic bone.

External causes of painful peeing after sex

Problems with lubrication during sex

If your vagina doesn’t produce enough fluid to lubricate itself, sex may feel painful and leave you feeling sore afterward. This soreness then gets worse when pee passes over your irritated skin.

Having a dry vagina is a common problem that may be caused by:

  • not being sexually aroused
  • feeling anxious about sex or your relationship with your partner
  • hormonal changes – for example, caused by the menopause, giving birth, breastfeeding or having your womb removed (a hysterectomy)
  • taking medication, like contraceptive pills or antidepressants, or having cancer treatment, like chemotherapy, which also affects your hormone levels

Having sex that’s rough or goes on for a long time can also hurt the skin around your penis or vagina, causing pain when you pee.

Chemical or medicine sensitivity

If you use lubricants, latex condoms, or contraceptive foams or sponges, your skin may react to the chemicals in these products and get irritated – or even have an allergic reaction. Then when you pee, this inflamed tissue may burn even more.

There are also some medicines, including those used for chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or to treat kidney stones, that can cause swelling in your bladder, making it hurt when you pee.

Skin conditions or inflammation

The symptoms of some skin conditions that affect your vagina or penis can be triggered by sex, leading to pain when you pee after sex. These include:

  • eczema, a group of skin conditions that irritate and dry out your skin
  • lichen planus, which usually causes shiny, raised red or purple bumps on your skin
  • balanitis – this pain or swelling (inflammation) around the penis has many causes, including friction from sex

Internal causes of painful peeing after sex

UTIs

A UTI is the most common cause of burning when you pee after sex. This infection happens when bacteria get into your urinary tract through your urethra and travel up into your bladder – having sex makes this more likely.

UTIs can affect your bladder, kidneys and the tubes connected to them. If you have a penis, they can affect your prostate, testicles (balls) or the tube at the back of the testicles (epididymis). People with a vagina tend to get bladder and kidney infections more often than those with a penis.

STIs

If you’re finding it painful to pee after sex, this may be a symptom of an STI. These are infections that you can get or pass on through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) or genital contact.

These STIs include:

  • chlamydia
  • genital herpes
  • gonorrhoea
  • trichomoniasis – in some cases, you won’t get any symptoms from this STI, which is caused by a parasite, but people with a vagina or penis may get burning or pain when peeing, or discharge from their genitals

How long it takes for STI symptoms to appear depends on the type of STI you have. Some STIs cause obvious symptoms, while others don’t cause any symptoms.

Genital infections or conditions

Common infections that may affect your vagina or penis can flare up during sex, causing painful peeing after sex. These genital conditions include:

  • thrush (candidiasis) – a usually harmless yeast infection. Read more about thrush in women and thrush in men
  • vaginitis – inflammation of your vagina that’s caused by many things, including thrush, STIs, hormonal changes from the menopause, breastfeeding or some kinds of contraceptives

Prostate infection or inflammation (prostatitis)

Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland (a small gland that produces fluid to mix with sperm to make semen). This swelling is usually due to a bacterial infection, but sometimes the cause isn’t clear. It can cause a lot of pain in your penis, testicles, bottom, lower tummy and lower back and when you pee.

When to see a doctor

Painful peeing after sex isn’t usually a symptom of something serious. If it happens once or if you figure out an obvious cause, such as a condom allergy irritating your skin, you can usually manage your symptoms with self-care. But sometimes, pain when you pee can suggest that you have a condition that needs medical attention, especially if you also have other symptoms.

Go to an emergency department or call an ambulance if it hurts to pee, and you:

  • have a very high or low temperature, feel confused or drowsy or have any other signs of sepsis
  • haven’t peed all day, have pain in your back or lower tummy, or have blood in your pee

You should also see a doctor as soon as possible if it burns when you pee, and:

  • your symptoms get worse, don’t get better within 2 days, or come back or don’t get better after treatment
  • you have symptoms of thrush for the first time
  • you have symptoms of a UTI for the first time, including peeing more often than usual and cloudy pee
  • you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner, or you or your partner have symptoms of an STI
  • you feel pain inside you when you have sex
  • you’re pregnant
  • if you have symptoms of prostatitis, including pelvic pain or painful ejaculation
  • you’re taking a medicine and are worried about its side effects

Treatment for painful peeing after sex

Simple self-care measures at home can help ease and prevent the burning or irritation of the skin on your penis and vagina after sex. This includes practising good hygiene – read more about the best way to clean your vagina and how to keep your penis clean.

But sometimes, the cause may be more serious and you may need to see a doctor for more specific treatment.

Problems with lubrication during sex

Having more foreplay before sex can encourage your vagina to produce enough lubrication, making sex more comfortable and less likely to irritate your genitals. Also, try using water-based lubricants (in and around your vagina and penis) or vaginal moisturisers. Read more about the best lubricants for sex.

If home remedies aren’t working or your vaginal dryness is due to changes in your hormone levels, speak to a doctor. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a common treatment option if you’re going through the menopause.

Chemical or medicine sensitivity

If you think you’re sensitive or allergic to a lubricant, contraceptive foams or sponges, or latex condoms, try a different type or speak to a pharmacist about alternative options.

And if you think a medication you’re taking is the cause of your symptoms, don’t stop taking your medication. Instead, speak to a doctor who will be able to check if this is the cause and decide if it’s safe for you to stop taking the medication or switch to a different type.

Skin conditions or inflammation

When it comes to treating balanitis, keeping your penis and foreskin clean and dry to prevent infection is key. If the pain and swelling don’t go away, see a doctor – treatment may include antifungal medicines, steroid creams or antibiotics. Find out about the best ways to treat a sore penis at home.

Treatment for eczema depends on whether it’s mild or serious, and a doctor may recommend moisturising or steroid creams, antihistamines and antibiotics. Find out more about the best treatment for eczema.

It’s best to get advice from a doctor if you think you have lichen planus. Sometimes you may not need to treat it if it’s mild, but when it’s more serious, treatments may include steroid creams and tablets, and antihistamines. Read more about your treatment options for lichen planus.

UTIs

Mild UTIs usually clear up on their own within a few days, but it’s still worth seeing a doctor if you think you have this infection, as they can give you self-care advice or antibiotics if you need them. Go back to a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve, get worse or come back after treatment.

Some self-care measures include:

  • taking simple painkillers – speak to your pharmacist or doctor for advice on how to safely get and use these medicines
  • drinking plenty of fluids – but avoid coffee, alcohol and acidic drinks like fruit juice, as they can make your symptoms worse
  • avoiding sex until you feel better

Read more about how to prevent UTIs.

STIs

If you’re worried you have an STI, go to a sexual health clinic or doctor as soon as possible. Many STIs can be treated successfully with antibiotics, but you should get any symptoms checked.

You’ll need to avoid having sex, including oral sex, until a doctor says it’s safe to do so – this is to avoid passing the STI on to someone else.

Genital herpes is an STI that doesn't have a cure. Its symptoms usually clear up by themselves, but the blisters can come back and should be treated with medicines. Use a condom whenever you have vaginal, anal or oral sex, but keep in mind that herpes can still be spread if it doesn’t cover the infected area.

Read more about how to prevent STIs.

Genital infections or conditions

Antifungal medicines, like creams and tablets, usually get rid of thrush. Speak to a pharmacist about the best antifungal treatment if you’ve had thrush before and know the symptoms. But, if it’s the first time you’ve had thrush, or the symptoms don’t go away after treatment or keep coming back, or you have a weakened immune system because you have diabetes, for example, see a doctor as a longer course of medicine or different treatment medicine may be needed.

If you have vaginitis for the first time, or it keeps coming back or gets worse, see a doctor to get to the bottom of the cause. Treatment could include:

  • medication like antibiotics, antifungal medicine or steroid creams
  • vaginal moisturisers, lubricants or HRT if you’re going through the menopause

Prostatitis

If you have symptoms of prostatitis, see a doctor. Your treatment options will depend on whether you have acute (sudden and new) or chronic (ongoing) prostatitis. For acute prostatitis, treatment may include painkillers, antibiotics and hospital treatment if you’re very ill.

For chronic prostatitis, treatment may include:

  • painkillers
  • medication to relax the muscles in your prostate gland and bladder
  • laxatives, if it hurts when you poo

How long does it take for painful peeing after sex to get better?

Often, pain on peeing after sex gets better with simple changes, like switching the kind of condoms or lubrication you use, or looking after sore genitals with good hygiene.

But if a medical condition is at the root of your pain, you’ll usually need to get treated or manage the condition to help relieve any pain you have. How long this will take typically depends on the cause of your problem and if the treatment a doctor gives you works or not.

Your health questions answered

  • Why do I have blood in my urine after sex?

    Answered by: Dr Rhianna McClymontLead Doctor at Livi

    Blood in your urine after sex might be a sign of a UTI, STI or trauma to your skin or genital area from sex. But, blood in your urine can also be a sign of a more serious condition, such as urinary tract cancers, so it's important to see a doctor for their advice.

Key takeaways

  • there are many possible reasons why it burns or hurts you to pee after sex, like a lack of lubrication during sex, but sometimes, it’s a sign of a condition that needs medical attention
  • common causes of painful peeing after sex include UTIs and STIs
  • there are some simple things you can do at home to help prevent and ease the burning or irritation of the skin on your penis and vagina, including practising good hygiene
  • if you have a UTI, you may need to take simple painkillers or use antibiotics, if your infection is very bad
  • you can treat many STIs with antibiotics and protect yourself from them by following safer sex rules, like using condoms
Was this article helpful?

We include references at the end of every article, so you know where we get our facts. We only ever take evidence from medically-recognised sources, approved by the UK National Health Service's The Information Standard, or certified by Health On the Net (HON). When we talk about popular health trends or claims, we'll always tell you if there's very little or no evidence to back them up. Our medical team also checks our sources, making sure they're appropriate and that we've interpreted the science correctly.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.