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If you’re a woman in menopause or postmenopause and experiencing a UTI (urinary tract infection) you’re not alone. These infections are a common health issue for menopausal women. In this blog post, we’ll talk about what you need to know about recurrent urinary tract infections and menopause. We’ll also provide some tips on what symptoms you should look out for as well as how to prevent and treat UTIs. Keep reading for more information.
What is a UTI?
A UTI happens when bacteria from the bowel enter and up the urethra. Usually, it would be flushed out when you pee but that doesn’t always happen and the result is an infection.
Why are urinary tract infections more frequent in menopause and post-menopause?
A decline in estrogen
As you know, menopause means the end of your menstrual cycles and fertility. However, it also changes your hormone levels.
Some women experience a decrease in estrogen and testosterone production during and after menopause. The hormone estrogen allows the “good” bacteria to thrive.
These bacteria produce acid, lowering the pH in the vagina which inhibits bad bacteria.
The result of lower estrogen levels is a higher chance of getting a UTIs.
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Changing conditions in the urethra and vagina
Vaginal atrophy symptoms are thinning vaginal tissue which becomes inflamed and dry. This opens the way for bacteria to get into the urinary tract.
The urethra also thins and becomes shorter giving a quick path into the urinary tract for bacteria.
Lower estrogen can also cause issues with the bladder.
Weaker pelvic muscles can make it more difficult to fully empty the bladder. This again opens the way for bacteria to multiply causing inflammation and infection.
Urinary incontinence can mean small amounts of pee escape causing a higher risk of infection.
What are the symptoms of an infection of the urinary tract?
Symptoms of UTI in menopause can include:
– burning sensation when you pee
– pain in your lower back and side near the end of urination.
– Blood in the urine (it may be reddish)
– Incontinence, especially while laughing or coughing.
– Need to use the bathroom frequently especially at night.
– Pain with sexual intercourse.
– Fever (38C or more) or chills
If you experience any of these symptoms it’s important to visit your doctor to get tested. Your doctor can perform a urine test to see if there’s an infection and determine the best course of action.
– See your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms
How to treat a urinary tract infection in menopause
A diagnosis can be made after a physical exam along with testing your urine.
Mild infections may clear up of their own accord however if it persists or you are having more serious issues then your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Here are a few tips for dealing with urinary tract infections:
– Drink lots of water to flush out bacteria and stay hydrated.
– Seek immediate medical attention if you have lower back pain, fever, or chills.
– After urinating wipe from front to back, do not use soap in that area.
– Avoid using feminine wipes, they’ll disrupt your pH balance.
– Make sure you empty your bladder fully and avoid holding it in for too long.
– Reduce stress as this can trigger UTIs and UTI symptoms.
What you can do to reduce the risk of getting a UTI
Of course, the best cure is prevention so here’s what you can do to prevent an infection in the first place:
- Hydrate, I really can’t stress this enough. It will make you go to the toilet more often and help flush out bacteria
– Empty your bladder fully
– Wear cotton underwear
– Avoid using feminine deodorant sprays and washes
Vaginal estrogen therapy in the form of creams can help by stopping harmful bacteria and soothing irritations. The topical application is shown to be more effective than oral tablets. Unfortunately there are women who are not able to have hormonal treatments for menopausal urinary symptoms such as women with breast cancer. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Take a supplement that will help prevent UTIs, like Utiva’s Cranberry PAC supplement, especially if you are prone to infections.
Once you have a UTI, you may be more prone to have another. Therefore, it is worthwhile to do as much as you can to prevent them from recurring.
If you’re postmenopausal, speak to your healthcare professional about ways to increase your vaginal PH . If you experience incontinence, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can be a first step toward allowing you to drink adequate fluids to help stave off a UTI.
UTIs are a common problem for many women. If you’re one of the unlucky few who suffer from recurrent infections, I feel your pain. These tips have helped me reduce my number of UTIs, but I would love to hear if you have any additional advice or tricks that work for you. Do you struggle with UTIs? Let me know in the comments and together we can help each other prevent these pesky infections.