The Dreaded Urinary Tract Infection After Menopause: Is There A Cure?

WARNING: Real Talk Ahead

A few weeks ago, at the age of 55, I experienced my very first bladder infection.

Throughout the years, I have known women (and men) who suffered with UTIs and sympathized with them, but had never – until  recently – experienced the ~ugh~ myself.

My first question: How the hell did this happen?

My second question: Is there a quick cure?

My third question: Can I prevent another one?

* Disclaimer: All information in this series is based on my personal experience and is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s advice.

Here’s what my research bore out:

Question #1: How the hell did this happen?

Get ready, real talk ahead.

I am postmenopausal. This means I’m more prone to a bladder infection.

But why? What is the physiology behind the heightened risk?

1: Vaginal atrophy is common in postmenopausal women and can be identified on pelvic examination by the appearance of dry, friable, and thin mucous membranes. The pathogenesis of recurrent UTIs is believed to be due to alterations in bacterial flora, changes in vaginal pH, and breakdown of natural mucosal barriers preventing ascending infection.

Vaginal atrophy is a key player here. WHOOP-PEE! Ain’t aging SWELL?!

Women who move through perimenopause, then to menopause, and finally to post-menopause WILL experience vaginal atrophy. Period. End of story.

This atrophy means that your first line of defense – estrogen that plumps your vaginal walls, stimulates blood flow and basically keeps your mucosal barriers running as intended, are now greatly diminished.

Another fun fact: The atrophy which occurs with menopause may shorten the urethra, allowing for a shorter distance for bacteria to travel to the bladder.

Sexy-time fun fact: Frequent sex CAN cause a UTI.

Note to Whippersnappers: Yes, postmenopausal women are still having and enjoying sex.

BowChickaBowWow.

This information, as annoying as it is, answered my question of how the hell it happened.

Cliff’s Notes: Vaginal atrophy brought on by menopause. BOOO.

Question #2: Is there a quick cure?

Quick is relative. While antibiotics are the course of action when there is an infection, short of nuking all the bacteria that lives in your nether regions (not even close to possible), there is no lasting cure.

Question #3: Can I prevent another one?

Maybe. Possible. More than likely, no.

BUT – there are things you can do to diminish the possibility of having recurring UTIs.

~ DRINK! Well, drink lots of quality H2O. You’ll need between 6-8 measured cups a day. This will be sufficient to flush your urinary tract system.

If you hate drinking water, just imagine the bad bacteria being swept from your bladder each time you pee. Drinking that amount of water each day is good for you and and easy preventative with no side effects.

~ PEE! You’ll naturally pee after drinking all that water, but what I’m suggesting here is to pee after sex. As we learned in our youth, urinating after intercourse can help flush the bacteria that has found its way into the bladder during sex.

~ WIPE! Wipe from front to back after doing your thang in the bathroom. This helps cross-contamination from anus to vagina.

~ SHOWER! Showering is better than soaking in a bath if you’re prone to UTIs.

~ PANTYHOSE! OMGosh, who they hell wears pantyhose anymore?! If you do, you may find you have more UTIs. This goes for any tight or restrictive clothing.

~ ESTROGEN! This is definitely a thing you need to talk to your doc about. I can’t, based on my breast cancer history.

~ CRANBERRY EVER’THANGS!: Or not.

Check this study: Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections  – AND – this article.

Here’s what I did for my first UTI: I took antibiotics and drank one measured cup of cranberry juice, three times a day for a week. Surprisingly, the juice helped.

Will it help you? I have no idea other than to tell you to try it and see if it works for you.

When I sat down with my doc to discuss all things urinary tract infections postmenopause, she advised to also start a cranberry supplement, which I have.

Does it work?

Urology Times: “Cranberry extracts or cocktails taken on a daily basis are believed to reduce the risk of recurrent UTIs. The magnitude of their effect is somewhat under question as highlighted by a recent Cochrane analysis, but several RCTs and meta-analyses have demonstrated benefit compared to placebo (Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012; 10:CD001321). Some of this variation may be due to lack of standardization of treatment. Nevertheless, cranberry extracts are an inexpensive, well-tolerated dietary supplement that has evidence supporting its use.”

The entire article was a fascinating read. Go. Read. Decide for yourself.

As for me? I’m taking a supplement…especially right after sex. (< Per my doc’s suggestion.) Seems like postmenopausal women are prone to infections, post-intercourse, and this one habit can greatly reduce the possibility of infections.

~ A gentle reminder: OMT! uses Amazon referral links. When you do your shopping through the Amazon links on this page, you support the blog at no cost to yourself. It’s much appreciated!~

Here’s the one I started with: TheraCran HP

The Dreaded Urinary Tract Infection After Menopause: Is There A Cure?

(source: AMAZON)

Product Deets:

  • Promotes Urinary Tract Health
  • Standardized to Contain 36 mg of Cranberry PACs per Daily Dose
  • Independently Content-Certified by NSF International

Product Description:

TheraCran HP is a standardized, high-quality, high-potency cranberry supplement formulated to support and maintain normal urinary tract health.* The formulation of TheraCran is overseen by an advisory board of leading academic physicians and scientists. How is TheraCran HP different? TheraCran HP is the first and only cranberry supplement that has been independently tested and certified for proanthocyanidin (PAC) and other flavonoid content. PACs are the compounds that researchers have determined to be the active component of cranberries. For a cranberry supplement to be effective in reducing the risk of urinary tract infections, it must provide an adequate dose of these PACs. Research indicates that 30–35 mg PACs per day is needed for urinary tract health. TheraCran HP is the first cranberry supplement to use a new high-potency cranberry powder containing at least 2.5% PACs. Most supplements on the market contain cranberry powder with only 1% PACs. As a result, it may take up to six capsules per day of these other supplements to get the recommended amount of active ingredients. Because TheraCran provides a more concentrated dose of PACs, only two capsules per day are needed: one in the morning and one in the evening. TheraCran contains no cellulose or other agents that can bind to PACs, dramatically reducing their effectiveness. Most other cranberry products do contain cellulose binders and are not effective.

Talk to your doc before starting any supplementation. Cause, you know, I’M NOT A DOCTOR (NOR IS GOOGLE!).

One last interesting article I found: How Avoiding Chicken Could Prevent Bladder Infections.

Anyone have experience with this?

I do love me some chicken and will keep you apprised if I find cause and effect when I handle raw chicken.

While I will do what I can to prevent another infection, there is no permanent cure to this issue.

I hope this has shed some light on why postmenopausal women are more prone to bladder infections and has offered a bit of help on the journey to good health.

Know your body. Know the signs. Do what you can.

Knowledge is indeed power.

 

* Disclaimer: All information in this series is based on my personal experience and is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s advice.

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