Menopause vs Perimenopause: When are UTIs Most Likely to Occur?

2 min read

Menopause usually occurs in women's late 40s or early 50s. Though it's often referred to as "the end of the childbearing years," it impacts much more than reproductive health. For one, the decline in hormone production can increase women's risk of getting UTIs.

Menopause vs perimenopause: What's the difference?

Most of us are familiar with menopause — the phase of life women typically enter during midlife, when the ovaries stop producing eggs and menstruation ends. But there's a whole phase before menopause that many people don't know about: perimenopause.

Sometimes called "menopause transition," perimenopause can begin 8 to 10 years before menopause. During this time, the ovaries slowly begin producing less estrogen and progesterone. This can result in an array of symptoms, like breast tenderness, aggravated PMS, irregular or missed periods, and periods that are heavier or lighter than usual.

In the final 1 to 2 years of perimenopause, hormone production declines more sharply, so women will typically begin experiencing more textbook menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, insomnia, mood swings, and more. Menopause officially begins when the ovaries stop producing eggs altogether and periods have been absent for a year.

Why menopause makes you more prone to UTIs

Before, during, and after menopause, the decline in estrogen can impact urinary tract health in many ways. Low estrogen levels can lead to urogenital atrophy, which means that the muscles in the urinary tract and parts of the vagina are weakened. It also causes the walls of the vagina and urethra to thin, leaving you more susceptible to UTIs.

But structural changes aren't the only reason for urinary tract issues. The drop in estrogen also alters vaginal pH, making it less acidic. Acidity is key to vaginal health — it protects the body from bacteria that cause UTIs and other issues, like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.

Since estrogen declines more and more over the years, women are technically at highest risk for UTIs after menopause. However, it's common for women to begin experiencing urinary tract issues during perimenopause and then see a worsening of symptoms as menopause progresses.

Preventing menopausal and postmenopausal UTIs

Treating the drop of estrogen is the primary ways to relieve menopausal symptoms. Doctors will often recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or localized therapy (vaginal estrogen creams) depending on the symptoms. But there are a number of ways you can reduce your risk of UTIs in particular.

Here are some of the top ways to prevent menopausal UTIs:

  • Urinate frequently to flush out the urinary tract. Empty your bladder before and after intercourse to flush out UTI-causing bacteria.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day, and reduce caffeine and alcohol as much as possible.
  • Avoid douches and irritating feminine hygiene products.
  • Take a probiotic specifically geared toward vaginal health, like Uqora Promote.

Though menopause is inevitable, urinary tract problems aren't. No one should have to struggle hopelessly with UTIs, incontinence, or other life-altering issues. If you're experiencing chronic symptoms, talk to your doctor about the best treatment options. And in the meantime, consider preventive options that can help you avoid antibiotics and get ahead of the symptoms.

Did you struggle with UTIs during or after menopause? Tell us about your experience below.

 


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