Menopause is marked by the end of menstruation and the chances of getting pregnant. However, it does not signal the end of the risk of developing urinary tract infections. What should you know about menopause and urinary tract infections (UTIs)?
What is a urinary tract infection?
A UTI is an infection that develops in the urinary system, which includes the ureters (the tubes between the kidneys and bladder), urethra (the tube that transports urine out of the body), the bladder, and the kidneys. Women are more susceptible to UTIs than men, largely because the area between the urethra and anus are closer together, which allows bacteria easier access.
Overall, 50 to 60 percent of women will experience a urinary tract infection during their lifetime. Among women age 65 and older, the rate of infection is twice that of the general female population.
Why do urinary tract infections occur during menopause?
The decline in estrogen levels causes menopausal women to be more likely to develop urinary tract infections. This is true for several reasons.
Lower amounts of estrogen can cause a shift in bacterial levels and change pH levels, which can set up an ideal environment for infections to develop. Vaginal tissue also gets thinner as women age, which makes it more likely to become infected. In addition, some women have difficulty emptying their bladder, which can increase the risk of bladder infection.
Menopausal women are also at a greater risk of experiencing chronic UTIs. These events can significantly interfere with the quality of life and sexual activities.
How can you treat urinary tract infections naturally?
You can take a variety of steps to help prevent and manage urinary tract infections, including chronic infections, without resorting to antibiotics. Consider these:
- Drink water. Pure water is the remedy to help flush harmful bacteria out of the urinary tract as well as dilute your urine to help prevent infections from taking hold. Keep a water bottle handy throughout the day. Add lemon or mint to help jazz up the water. Some women worry that drinking too much water will cause them to experience more leakage, but too little water promotes UTIs. To prevent nighttime urination, stop drinking three hours before bedtime.
Don’t hold it. Go to the bathroom whenever you feel the urge. Holding your urine contributes to the possibility of infection.
Pee after sexual intercourse. Also, urinate before sex. This can help eliminate bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
- Use natural products. Feminine hygiene items, as well as soaps, can irritate the urethra and promote infection.
- Enjoy cranberries. Drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements daily can help prevent UTIs. These ruby fruits contain proanthocyanidins (PACs), substances that help prevent bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall and causing an infection. It’s been shown that this benefit can be provided by getting 36 mg of PACs, which is the amount in 8 to 10 ounces of 27 percent cranberry juice, 1 ounce of sweetened dried cranberries, or in some supplements.
- Do Kegels. These exercises can help support your bladder and are specifically designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. It’s important to do these correctly. To identify the muscles you need to use, pretend you are trying to stop from peeing. Those are your pubococcygeus muscles. Squeeze these muscles, hold the squeeze for 8 to 10 seconds, then release it. Repeat this sequence up to 10 times and do several sessions daily.
when to see a health provider
If you experience persistent chronic urinary tract infections and other remedies are not providing relief, consult your physician. You may need a regimen of antibiotics, but you should also take probiotics before, during, and after your dosing to help maintain healthy bacteria in your gut.
Urinary tract infections are a common occurrence among women in menopause. Adopting a few lifestyle adjustments can help ward off and manage these events.