These days, no matter where you are in your fertility journey, trying to conceive can be stressful. Even if you’re going for it the old-fashioned way (read: sexual intercourse; no medical assistance), it feels like baby-making requires more planning than buying a home: You need to track your menstrual cycle, make sure you have sex on specific days, etc. Put it this way: You’re likely exhausted before you’ve even gotten to the jumping-into-bed part!

While it’s true that women are at their most fertile only on certain days, numerous myths about the TTC process have snuck into everyday conversation, creating more anxiety during what should be an enjoyable time of your life: Do I need to be in a certain position to get pregnant? Should I raise my legs in the air immediately after sex? 

One of the most common myths out there is peeing after sex, with many fearing that heading to the toilet immediately after getting frisky will stop them from getting pregnant. Thus causing post-coital physical and emotional discomfort instead of bliss. 

woman peeing on the toilet with her underwear pooled at her ankles

That’s the last thing anyone wants to feel before, during, and after sex. So Rescripted spoke with Cordelia Nwankwo, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN based in Washington, D.C., to help us set the record straight on the age-old question, “To Pee or Not to Pee.”

Is peeing after sex necessary when trying to conceive?

If you’re trying to conceive and you need to go to the bathroom right after sex, we’re here to tell you to relax and let that urine flow. “Peeing after sex doesn’t prevent pregnancy,” assures Dr. Nwankwo. The reason is simple Anatomy 101: “The sperm enters through your vaginal canal into your cervix and uterus and travels to your fallopian tubes, where fertilization happens,” she explains. “The urine comes out of the urethra, which is separate from the vaginal canal.” (The urethra is the tube that allows urine to leave your bladder and your body.)

There is no chance of the sperm interacting with the urine because they’re traveling via two different routes. So rest assured that even if you’ve already experienced bodily relief through orgasm, feel free to relieve yourself further in the bathroom. It’s perfectly safe.  

couple embracing at the beach

What about putting your legs in the air after sex?

Lying down or putting your legs in the air after sex has no bearing on pregnancy, says Dr. Nwankwo. “Sperm can travel to the fallopian tubes in a matter of seconds — whether you lie down or not doesn’t change that.” 

So, are there any benefits to peeing after intercourse? 

While peeing after sex won’t affect your chances of getting pregnant, it’s also not a bad idea to hit the toilet from a hygiene perspective. “Peeing after sex, and cleaning up in general, can help clear some of the bacteria in the area and decrease the likelihood of a urinary tract infection (UTI),” says Dr. Nwankwo. 

If you need to go, it’s usually a good idea to urinate within 30 minutes after sexual intercourse, because bacteria could move into your bladder if you wait longer. Urethras are short (about 1.5 inches long), leaving little barrier between your bladder and all sorts of bacteria.

woman on the toilet holding a roll of toilet paper

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There is a caveat to these recommendations, however. The flushing away of bacteria that comes from peeing after sex won’t necessarily protect you from getting a UTI, depending on your risk factors. Other measures for preventing UTIs include drinking plenty of water, taking showers instead of baths, avoiding douching, and wiping from front to back after using the bathroom. 

If you’re experiencing recurrent UTIs (typically defined as three or more a year), be sure to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. 

What’s important to remember is that peeing after sex won’t hurt you, regardless of whether or not you’re TTC.

Sarene Leeds holds an M.S. in Professional Writing from NYU, and is a seasoned journalist, having written and reported on subjects ranging from TV and pop culture to health, wellness, and parenting over the course of her career. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, Vulture, SheKnows, and numerous other outlets. A staunch mental health advocate, Sarene also hosts the podcast “Emotional Abuse Is Real.” Visit her website here, or follow her on Instagram or Twitter.