Menopause: What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause, and when are UTIs most likely to occur?
Menopause is a natural stage for women as they approach their late 40s and early 50s, signifying the end of a woman’s reproductive years. During that time, women’s risk of getting a UTI increases because of the natural changes in your body like the hormones we produce. Because of these changes, a woman’s risk for getting a UTI increases during and after menopause.
Regardless of your age or if you are experiencing menopause, there are many ways you can still reduce your risk of getting a UTI. Here are some things to know about the relationship between menopause and UTIs.
What is menopause? Perimenopause?
Menopause signifies the end of a woman’s reproductive years after which she can no longer get pregnant. Menopause typically occurs around late 40s to early 50s, when a woman stops having her monthly period.
Perimenopause, sometimes called "menopause transition," is a stage before menopause. As the name suggests, perimenopause will last up until menopause when a woman’s ovaries will cease to release eggs. Symptoms can begin 8 to 10 years before menopause when a woman’s ovaries start to slowly produce less estrogen. Perimenopause usually begins during a woman's 40s, and many women can experience menopause symptoms towards the last 1-2 years of perimenopause when the estrogen levels drop more. Women still menstruate and can get pregnant during perimenopause
How does menopause change the body?
A woman’s body experiences a lot of changes during this stage because of the change in hormone production. The ovaries, which store eggs and release them into the fallopian tubes, produce female hormones estrogen and progesterone which control a woman’s menstruation cycle. Estrogen also controls how the body maintains its cholesterol and calcium levels.
During menopause, the ovaries no longer produce a high level of these hormones. This results in no longer releasing eggs into the fallopian tubes, and eventually, the menstrual cycle ends.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
These are some symptoms you might experience if you are transitioning into menopause:
- Hot flashes, night sweats and/or cold flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- The urgent need to urinate, or more frequently
- Difficulty sleeping
- Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, mild depression)
- Dry skin, eyes or mouth
Perimenopause symptoms include:
- Breast tenderness
- Aggravated PMS symptoms; worsening
- Irregular or skipped periods
- Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
How menopause makes you more prone to getting UTIs
When a woman goes through menopause, estrogen production reduces; during the last few years of menopause, estrogen levels drop heavily. Lack of estrogen usually is the main cause of urogenital atrophy, which means that the muscle’s in the urinary tract and parts of the vagina are weakening and atrophying (wasting away).
Low estrogen affects the urinary system; the bladder which holds urine and the urethra that carries urine out of the body are weakened, leading to decreased ability to control urinary functions. Reduced estrogen also alters the pH acidity of the vulva and the vagina; this change can affect the growth of bacteria in that area, creating an increased risk of getting different urinary complications like UTIs during menopause.
Managing your postmenopausal urinary symptoms
Treatment for urogenital atrophy as a result of a lack of estrogen for postmenopausal women can help restore women’s genital areas and relieve symptoms and discomfort of urogenital atrophy.
The best way to manage UTIs after menopause is to be preventative:
- Urinate frequently as you can to pass bacteria. Empty your bladder before and after intercourse
- Use vaginal estrogen creams to help restore the “good/bad” balance of bacteria in your vagina. Speak with your doctor to see if this method works for you.
- Hydrate and drink water throughout the day
- Avoid douches and irritating feminine hygiene products
- Drink Uqora, a natural and safe beverage that effectively chases out UTI-causing bacteria, replenishes your body with vitamins and electrolytes, and is safe to use during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and for women of all ages.