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Wipe penis before sex? — Ask Dr Jean

Ask Dr Jean 4 Jan 2021
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When it comes to women's health, there is no such thing as a silly question. Do you have a question you want answered, but have been too afraid or embarrassed to bring it up with your GP? Or you forgot to ask while you were in the doctor's surgery? Now, you can 'Ask Dr Jean'.

Answering your questions for this edition of 'Ask Dr Jean' is gynaecologist and Jean Hailes Medical Director, Dr Elizabeth Farrell AM (pictured below).

Question

I am a 59 year-old woman, prone to UTIs, and still having sex with my partner, although not very frequently.

He is agreeable to the thought of wiping his penis down with something before sex. My question is, with what? Antibacterial wipes? The wet-wipes used for babies?

What ingredients ought I seek, and what [should I] avoid? Not anything with scent, I expect, but given the wipe will affect very sensitive surfaces, I am concerned about what to buy, that is worth using, but won't cause harm. Very grateful for any advice.

Dr Elizabeth Farrell

Answer

Your question has a number issues we need to discuss.

Firstly, urinary tract infections (UTIs). If you are prone to UTIs then you should be assessed by your GP to determine why. There are many reasons for UTIs and sometimes they are provoked by having intercourse.

If you don’t already do so, you should also pass urine before and after sex and gently wash your vulva with plain water. No soap or wipes are preferable.

At 59 years you are most probably postmenopausal and therefore there are changes in your vagina, vulva, bladder and urethra due to the loss of oestrogen your ovaries produce. The loss of oestrogen has effects on our vagina, leading to thinning of the lining often associated with dryness, shortening of the vagina, loss of vaginal secretions and a change in the natural bacteria that live in the vagina.

The vulva also has changes including thinning of the tissues, sometimes narrowing of the vaginal entrance, and the urethral opening from the bladder becomes more prominent and is more likely to be rubbed during intercourse.

The lining of the urethra and the base of the bladder are also thin, making you more prone to UTIs.

The use of vaginal oestrogen regularly will improve the lining in all the vaginal, urethral and bladder tissues and has been shown to reduce UTIs in the postmenopausal woman.

Your partner should maintain normal hygiene, he does not need any wipes. Any wipes or antibacterial soap are harsh on tissues such as the vulva and the penis.

Read article: Your guide to UTIs

Start here