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Articles on Menopause & Perimenopause

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections can affect the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) and/or the kidneys (pyelonephritis). The most common cause is from bacteria being transferred from the anus to one of these sites. Urinary tract infections appear in both sexes but women have at least ten times the number of incidences over men. Women who are sexually active tend to have the highest occurrence of urinary tract infections.

Symptoms can include:

• blood in urine
• cloudy urine mixed with discharged mucus material from the urethra
• frequent urge to urinate, even with small amounts of urine in the bladder
• burning or stinging when urinating
• painful sexual intercourse

There is a high risk for this type of infection for some people such as those having multiple sexual partners, catheter users and others who are immobilized for long periods, such as victims of paralysis. People who suffer from kidney stones are also more likely to have urinary tract infections. For some, repeated use of antibiotic drugs has produced an immunity and the bacteria becomes increasingly resistant, making a change of medication necessary.

A health care professional can easily diagnose this ailment with a urine culture test and a general examination. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics which usually clear up the problem within two to three days. A recurrence of symptoms is frequent for some. This may be brought on by a lapse in hygienic practices or a resistance to the prescribed antibiotic.

To relieve the pain associated with this infection, sitting in a tub of hot water is recommended for 15 minutes twice daily. Many doctors also recommend drinking cranberry and blueberry juices as they have been shown to prevent and treat urinary tract infections successfully. These juices prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the linings of the bladder and urethra. It is also believed that adding parsley to the diet may help to dispose of harmful bacteria associated with these infections since parsley increases urination naturally. Along with any other treatments, sufferers are urged to drink large quantities of water. This alone can be the greatest weapon against urinary tract infections since bacteria are not allowed to reproduce in the urinary tract because of frequent urination.

Preventative measures to reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections include:

  • Cranberry maintains healthy urinary tract by inhibiting bacterial growth on the walls of the bladder and then any bacteria is flushed away.

  • Drink water before and after pelvic examinations since medical instruments may deposit bacteria in the urethral area.

  • Try to urinate the urge is felt; resist the urge to hold in urine for long periods.

  • Be careful to clean genital area thoroughly after sexual contact; empty the bladder soon after sexual activity.

  • After bowel movements, always wipe from front to back and wash area with soap and water afterward.

  • Take showers instead of tub baths.

  • Drink water before sexual activity and empty bladder and drink more water afterward to flush away bacteria.

  • Drink plenty of water daily along with cranberry or blueberry juices.

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and sexual activity while being treated for a urinary infection since they may aggravate the condition.

Urinary tract infections are easily treated and rarely lead to serious or long-term medical consequences. Although recurrence is high and there are those who are resistant to antibiotic treatment, this ailment is not considered serious if treated properly. Even those cases resistant to medication can be controlled with low doses of strong antibiotics administered daily over time. Left untreated, however, these infections could progress to chronic bladder and kidney ailments. If recommended treatment is followed along with adherence to hygienic practices and no improvement occurs, a urologist should be consulted.

Low Progesterone and Estrogen

Progesterone also plays several roles in preventing vaginal and urinary tract infections. It is often forgotten that estrogen and progesterone help each other. Estrogen is necessary for cells to make progesterone receptors, and progesterone helps make estrogen receptors more sensitive. When progesterone is deficient, estrogen receptors become less sensitive to estrogen. Thus, many women with sufficient estrogen will nevertheless have signs of estrogen deficiency, such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes, as well as estrogen dominance symptoms. When progesterone is restored to normal physiological levels, estrogen receptors become more sensitive and signs of estrogen deficiency disappear: hot flashes diminish in intensity and frequency, vaginal lubrication returns, and urinary tract problems go away.

Also, it should not be forgotten that progesterone is part of our immune defense system that prevents infections: progesterone aids in the formation of secretory IgA, an immune globulin that traps germs before they enter mucosal tissues such as those found in the vagina. This is why many women who begin using progesterone cream find that their allergies and sinusitis clear up. Therefore, whenever estrogen is given, or progesterone is deficient, it is wise to supplement with normal physiological doses of progesterone to optimize one’s immune defenses.