Menopause and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): The Connection
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As a leading Consultant Gynaecologist, I frequently encounter UTIs, one of the most prevalent infections affecting women. UTIs typically target the lower urinary tract, encompassing the bladder and the urethra tube responsible for urine drainage. However, these infections can extend to the ureters connecting the bladder to the kidneys and even affect the kidneys themselves.

In this blog article, I’ll help you teach about the connection between menopause and urinary tract infections, including causes, treatment and prevention strategies.

What are UTI Symptoms?

Experiencing a burning sensation during urination, heightened urgency, frequent urination, and lower abdominal pain are common indicators of a UTI.

Cloudy urine or an unusual odour alone may not conclusively signal a UTI, as these factors depend on dietary choices and hydration levels. However, they could point to a UTI when coupled with other symptoms.

While some UTIs may resolve without medical intervention, if persistent symptoms last more than two days, book an appointment with your private gynaecologist. Immediate medical attention is crucial if you encounter additional symptoms such as fever, chills, shivering, extreme fatigue, discomfort in the stomach or back, and kidney tenderness upon tapping below the back ribs.

Differentiating Symptoms

It’s essential to distinguish UTI symptoms from those indicative of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), yeast infections, or painful bladder syndrome. Symptoms like vaginal discharge, itching around the vagina, and a burning sensation after urination may align with these conditions.

If you’ve any of these symptoms, it is unwise to dismiss them. Seeking timely medical advice is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you need urinary tract infection treatment in London, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. Procrastinating in seeking treatment may worsen your symptoms and potentially result in complications.

Causes of UTI

Regrettably, the primary risk factor for urinary tract infections (UTIs) lies in the female anatomy. The proximity of the urethra opening to the anus and vagina creates an environment rich in bacteria, making women more susceptible.

While men can contract UTIs, they occur significantly less frequently due to their longer urethra, which poses a challenge for bacteria entry. However, as men age, the prevalence of UTIs tends to increase. Enlarged prostates make it harder for them to empty their bladders, contributing to a higher risk.

Even children are not exempt from UTIs, and diagnosis can be challenging. Typically, a urine test helps for confirmation. Children with bladder and bowel dysfunctions face a higher likelihood of developing UTIs compared to those without such conditions.

Statistically, about half of all women will encounter a UTI during their lifetime, contrasting sharply with only 12% of men.

Sexual intercourse emerges as a prominent cause of infection, as it brings bacteria close to the urethra. The use of diaphragms and spermicides further amplifies this risk.

Pregnancy introduces another potential trigger for UTIs. Hormonal changes, such as the reduction of muscle tone in the uterus and bladder due to progesterone, coupled with the increased pressure from a growing fetus, slow down urine flow, fostering an environment conducive to infections.

The onset of menopause also serves as a trigger for UTIs.

Poorly controlled diabetes heightens the risk of UTIs, as does the presence of kidney stones or other urinary tract abnormalities.

For both men and women, the use of medical implements near the urethra, such as catheters, can act as triggers for UTIs.

Menopause and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

During menopause, vaginal tissues and the urethra change due to diminished oestrogen levels, often leading to notable urinary symptoms.

Women may experience increased susceptibility to urinary infections, manifesting as pain while urinating, heightened frequency, or the presence of blood in the urine. Appropriate treatment generally involves antibiotics.

Despite this, many women experience ongoing problems after antibiotic treatment, often because of antibiotics prescriptions without a genuine infection. The sensitivity of the urethra, heightened by decreasing oestrogen levels, can imitate symptoms of infection, including inflammation. In such instances, antibiotics are ineffective, and this situation commonly arises after sexual intercourse.

To alleviate these symptoms, using lubricants during intercourse can be beneficial. Additionally, it’s advisable to urinate both before and after sex to mitigate the risk of developing a full-blown infection.

The application of oestrogen in tiny capsules directly into the vagina is safe and effective. This approach can reduce infection frequency, alleviate discomfort, and minimise nocturnal bathroom visits. Vaginal oestrogen also proves beneficial for women experiencing stress incontinence (urine leakage during coughing or sneezing) or urinary urgency. Postmenopausal women can use vaginal oestrogen tablets indefinitely, as they have received approval for long-term usage.

UTI Treatment

Regrettably, nearly 20% of women who have experienced a UTI will subsequently face another, and 30% of women with a history of 2 UTIs will encounter a third episode.

When you consult your private gynaecologist, they will inquire about your symptoms and assess the risk factors mentioned earlier. If you are present in the clinic, they will conduct a physical examination to check for tenderness in the lower abdomen or around the kidneys.

A prescribed general antibiotic typically resolves the infection, but it’s crucial to inquire about the expected time frame for improvement and what steps to take if there’s no noticeable progress.

E-coli bacteria are responsible for 80% to 90% of UTIs. However, if you endure two infections within six months or three within a year, your gynaecologist will conduct a urine test to identify the specific bacteria causing the issue. It enables the prescription of more targeted antibiotics.

A promising new treatment involves taking the d-mannose supplement  – a sugar that inhibits the proliferation of infected bacteria in the bladder. This approach seems effective as it prevents bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract.

By understanding the connection between menopause and urinary tract infections and adopting these preventive measures, women can navigate this transition and maintain good urinary health.

Mahantesh Karoshi
Mahantesh Karoshi

I'm a Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist and Women's Health Expert. I believe in educating my patients to contribute to achieving the best possible clinical and holistic outcomes. By taking this approach, I enable and empower my patients whilst addressing their issues and concerns. I run a private practice with an extremely high standard of professionalism. My patients are directly involved in their care and management in all stages. My approach to my patient's problems is built on dedication and passion, drawing on analytical thinking and my on-time honored reading, teaching medical professionals nationally and internationally.