Immediately after sex is actually a critical moment for something highly unsexy. Yes, we’re talking about bacterial growth. (Yuck.)
As most people with vaginas will attest, it’s not that difficult to get out of balance down there. This may happen especially easily if you have a particularly active sex life. Sex can bring a host of new bacteria, which is challenging for the vagina to fend off.
Post-sex, you and your partner likely want to lounge in bed and bask in that sexual glow or just fall fast asleep. But immediately after sex is actually a critical moment for something highly unsexy. Yes, we’re talking about bacterial growth. (Yuck.)
As it turns out, locking down a post-sex routine can be the difference between a super-steamy sex life—and a perma-vengeful vagina.
Developing healthy hygiene habits after sex is important for keeping germs and infections at bay. Adhering to some prevention practices is a good idea.
So even if the last thing you want to do is leave the bed, start getting into the post-coital routine of washing up. Here’s a checklist of what you need to do.
# 1 Pee
Even if nature doesn’t call after sex, women should use the bathroom, gynecologists recommend. That’s because when you have intercourse, bacteria from the rectum – which is in very close proximity to the urethra and the vagina – can get close to the urethra and can cause an infection, especially in women who are prone to urinal tract infections.
The urine washes out the bacteria that are mechanically present at the end of the urethra.
The vagina is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, because of its moist and warm nature. That’s why you must pee after sex. It is important to note though that it’s always best to pee when you actually need to — and that it doesn’t make any difference if you pee two minutes, 20 minutes or an hour after sex.
#2 Wash gently
Stray pubic hairs, lubricant (natural or something you applied), ejaculate and all sorts of fun things could be stuck and hanging out around your genitals, so for pure comfort as well as for hygiene, it’s a good idea to have a quick wash.
A shower is usually the best idea, and a hot bath not so much. This is because your vagina opens up in response to stimulation, and a hot bath can leave you more susceptible to infection.
Bacteria from the fingers, mouth, and rectum can increase a woman’s chance of developing yeast or bacterial infection after sex, doctors say. They recommend using a non-fragrant soap to wash the vagina after sex. Simply take a warm washcloth and gently dab the area with soap and water (or just warm water), moving from front to back.
But, as with any shower, you should avoid the use of soap directly on (and even worse, in) your vagina. Using soaps or douches can interfere with their pH levels as well as the healthy bacteria you already have and don’t want to get rid of. So, no douches allowed.
#3 Go commando for a while
Another important step in helping to prevent yeast and bacterial infections is to put on some cotton undies or, well, nothing after sex, instead of nylon and frill-itchy lingerie.
Once you’re so fresh and so clean-clean, ward off UTIs and other infections by wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting pajamas to keep your privates dry — or, better yet, go commando for optimum air circulation.
At the very least, avoid nylon underwear and tight-fitting sleepwear, which can trap moisture and help bacteria grow, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
#4 Note any discomfort
After sex is a good time to check in with your body to make sure everything feels as it should. This is the best time to take a body scan, because you may not remember the physical sensations later or where exactly you felt pain. Paying attention now could mean catching something important early on and getting any necessary treatment sooner.
Sometimes pain happens during sex. The two primary discomforts you might notice once in a while, gynecologists say, are pain from being too dry down there and a deeper sensation that could be caused by issues including constipation, a muscle spasm or your partner hitting one of your ovaries (which is more likely if you're ovulating, as it temporarily increases the size of the ovary).
However, discomfort every time or most times you have sex is not normal, especially if the feeling lasts for a few hours and is not commensurate with how, ahem, vigorous the sex was. If that happens, talk to your doctor, as it could be a sign of a more serious issue like ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis or, more rarely, gynecologic cancers.
Make a mental note of any discomfort that is abnormal, or write it down.
If the discomfort continues after more sexual intercourse, you will want to see your doctor to diagnose any problems that may exist. If the discomfort is not tolerable, of course, call your doctor immediately.
#5 Drink water
You may need to hydrate after vigorous sex. Dehydration affects your entire body. As with other forms of exercise, it’s great to stay hydrated after sex, and the extra water will help flush any UTI-causing bacteria as well.
So, if your mouth is dry and/or your vagina felt like sandpaper during sex, you definitely need to refuel with water.
Right after sex, drink a pint or two of water. That will hydrate you and help flush pesky UTI-causing bacteria from your bladder.
The good news is that, while sex is messy, it’s not inherently medically dangerous. If it was, the human race would be struggling a lot more, right? That means it’s up to you to figure out what feels good for you to do in terms of post-sex clean-up.
Maybe you hate the sticky feeling between your legs and can’t wait to leap out of bed to shower immediately after the sex is over, maybe the stickiness annoys you but snuggling (after a quick pee break) is more important, or maybe the mess turns you on.
To each their own! If you remember to follow these simple tips, you should be all set.