While wearing a condom is usually recommended to prevent UTIs, the same principle does not apply to spermicide-coated condoms. The effect this specific type of condom has when it comes to preventing pregnancy is what contributes to the unexpected risk of a UTI, according to Cleveland Clinic urologist, Dr. Howard Goldman (via Allure).
“Spermicide kills the sperm, but it also may kill some of the healthy bacteria that are normal in the vagina. Then, when those healthy bacteria are killed or gone, some of the bacteria that you don’t want can take up residence in the vagina,” explained the expert. These bacteria can then find their way into the urethra causing a UTI.
Research has delved into how nonoxynol-9 — the active ingredient found in spermicide — is associated with the prevalence of UTI. Older research even alluded to the fact that women exposed to nonoxynol-9 were three times more likely to develop a UTI when compared with other birth control methods.
Speaking of other types of birth control, while unlubricated condoms could be irritating, sugar-flavored ones may also pose a threat when it comes to bacteria growth, per Dr. House. If condoms are your preferred choice of birth control, this can start to feel limiting for those of you who want to keep the health of your pee in mind. There are, however, natural or organic condoms free of chemicals on the market. Thin latex condoms might also work but be mindful of latex allergies. Alternatively, you can try switching to other contraceptive methods like an intrauterine device (IUD).