Menopause leads to a number of changes and discomfort for women, but one of the most under looked issues are those painful repeat UTI’s.
The anatomy of the vagina already leaves women susceptible to Urinary Tract Infections, add in menopause, and it leads to the perfect storm. Can women ever catch a break? Stumbling estrogen levels, and changes in vaginal pH can imbalance the healthy bacteria which keeps the “bad” bacteria at bay. The overgrowth of the bad bacteria, can be pushed into your urethra and further back into your bladder, leading to a painful UTI. For many, this develops into a fear of having sex again, causing worry that sex will lead to a repeat UTI. For some, this even causes urinary incontinence, causing women to avoid drinking fluids and dehydration.
As a physician, having personally experienced them myself, I spent years researching UTI infections. How do I take control over my health and sex life?
But the answer is simple - stay hydrated.
Drinking 8 glasses of water, doesn't just make your skin plump, but keeps your vagina fresh and hydrated too. What some physicians don’t realize, is change in pH can not only cause an imbalance in vaginal bacteria, but yeast as well. A healthy vagina has a pH of 3.8-4.5, and as women ascend into menopause from their reproductive years, the pH becomes closer to 4.5, and sometimes a little higher. Yeast, better classified as Candida albicans, along with pH keep our vagina healthy and infection free. Menopause comes in and brings and upset to that balance, causing a subtle overgrowth of Candida. All of these issues need to be addressed in order to set order to your vaginal health straight.
Here are 5 tips to help you gain some control on these symptoms:
1) Change your diet: Avoid sugars and eat more probiotics. Whether it’s kombucha, yogurt, sauerkraut, or picking up a probiotic filled with Lactobacillus, this is a must!
2) Coconut Oil: Natures lubricant. This surprisingly easy to find oil, has been used for centuries in ancient civilizations. With antibacterial, and anti fungal properties, it not only helps keeps the unhealthy pathogens away, but also gives you (a lot of) lubrication for intimate time with your partner.
3) Urinating frequently: Emptying your bladder after intercourse can help prevent the bad bacteria sticking to your bladder and urethral walls.
4) Kegel Exercises: Strengthening your pelvic floor to prevent stress incontinence
5) Estrogen: Sometimes, you need a little help from modern medicine. Whether that’s in the form of an estrogen patch, or cream, it’ll certainly help address vaginal dryness, and atrophy, both factors in menopausal UTI’s.