UTI or urine infection is very common in women in their post menopausal years. Majority of the women develop a bladder infection or UTI within 4 to 5 years after the onset of menopause or stopping estrogen therapy. In this article, we will study low estrogen uti symptoms, menopause cystitis and topical estrogen therapy to prevent frequent urinary tract infections.
Why do UTIs occur in menopausal women?
Estrogen supports vaginal health in the following ways:
- It prevents growth of harmful bacteria in the vagina.
- Helps the growth of good bacteria (lactobacillus) in the vagina.
In menopause, the body’s ability to produce estrogen natural diminishes rapidly. This is the reason why UTIs or bladder infections occur frequently in these years.
What are low estrogen uti symptoms?
One sign of bladder infection is a strong urge to urinate frequently which cannot be delayed. However upon actually going to the restroom, the patient might be hardly able to produce a few drops of urine at a time. As the urine flows, a burning, stinging or sharp painful sensation may be produced. This is called dysuria and it begins in the urethra. The urge to urinate again and again may occur within a few minutes of going to the loo. Other low estrogen uti symptoms are as follows:
- Pain in the lower back and abdomen
- Mood swings
With menopause, the frequency of recurrent uti increases as the vaginal lactobacillus is replaced with intestinal bacteria. These bacteria enter easily in the bladder and cause painful menopause cystitis.
The solution to counter frequent urinary tract infections after menopause
First of all, an accurate diagnosis of UTI is a must. Apart from symptoms, the doctor will also test the urine sample to indicate presence of bacteria. It is very important to find out which strain of bacteria are causing the infection. Symptomatic UTIs can be treated with painkillers. Frequent utis must be treated with low dose antibiotics. If the UTI reaches the kidneys, you might need stronger antibiotics given at a hospital.
Role of estrogen in countering UTIs after menopause
According to a 2013 study, topical estrogen cream can play an important role in preventing frequent urinary tract infections after menopause. Estrogen stimulates the production of the body’s natural defense system and enhances the ability of the urinary tract cells to fight the infection-causing bacteria. According to the 2013 study, researchers treated post menopausal women having frequent UTIs with estrogen for a period of 14 days. They then studied their urine and found that the estrogen actually glued and healed the gaps in between the cells lining the bladder lumen. This action made it harder for the bacterial cells to bridge through the gap to reach the underlying cells and harm them causing infection. Oral estrogen pills are associated with increased cancer risk, but topical estrogen is much safer and today it is available in the form of gels, creams and suppositories. Vaginal estrogen also has following benefits:
- It can facilitate growth of good lactobacillus bacteria
- It helps improve vaginal function
- It also helps improve sexual function
Talk to your doctor about the right dosage of vaginal estrogen cream for treating frequent and recurrent bladder infections.
Staying ahead in the game: Preventing frequent menopause cystitis
The best way to stay ahead of an UTI is to take preventive measures. Following health choices can prevent UTIs:
- Use vaginal lubrication before sex. After menopause, the vagina becomes very dry, which, in turn, increases the chances of UTIs following intercourse. Avoid harsh lubricants containing fragrance and colors.
- Urinate immediately after sexual intercourse-this will prevent bacteria from the urine harming the urinary tract.
- Take Vitamin C- At least 1000 mg per day-or as advised by your doctor. This will enhance your body’s natural defense system to prevent infections.
- Cranberries– You can take cranberries in fresh, frozen or dried form. Drink natural sugar-free cranberry juice or take supplements containing cranberry extracts.
- Blueberries– Eat plenty of blueberries. They are rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants that improve the body’s immunity to fight infections. Have a handful of blueberries in your morning cereal or smoothies.
- Reduce sugar intake– Refined sugar lowers the body’s immunity leading to frequent urinary tract infections.
- Drink plenty of water– Water helps flush out the bacteria and toxins keeping you healthy from inside out.
- Urinate when you feel the urge– If you hold back the urine for long time, you end up creating a favorable environment for the bacteria to infect the cells of the urinary tract.
- Wipe from front to back after bowel movement. This will prevent bacteria from anus going towards the opening of the urethra.
- Cleaner is not always better- If you are using too many scented vaginal products (douches, lubricants etc) then you may be affecting the natural pH of the vagina. So avoid scented products and go in for natural ones like coconut oil etc. Also avoid harsh soaps.
- Probiotics– eat plenty of probiotic foods to facilitate good bacteria in the vagina and the intestines. These include yogurts, kefir, miso soups.
- Avoid tight fitting underwear. Wear loose cotton underwear as far as possible.
Menopausal UTI need not become a part of your life. Talk to your doctor about using topical estrogen to prevent low estrogen uti symptoms.