Urinary infections, also known as infections of the urinary tract, are one of the most common bacterial infections in women. The urinary tract is more susceptible to infections during menopause due to reduction in hormonal support. This tract, being a system for the removal of the body’s fluid wastes, is more vulnerable to multiplication of bacteria, leading to infection. Though not necessarily serious, the urinary infections are painful. The symptoms disappear quickly after treatment with antibiotics.
Most women experience infections of the urinary tract, at least once in their lifetime, though many have them repeatedly.
Menopause and Urinary Infections – Their Causes
Factors leading to increased risks of urinary infections in women are pregnancy, urinary infections as a child, diabetes and menopause. The bacteria, around the rectum or the vagina, which enters the urinary tract causes this type of infection in women. The female anatomy is prone to urinary infections as the very act of sexual intercourse massages the bacteria into the urethra.
A weak bladder could also be the cause of urinary infections. The bladder stretches to hold urine and relaxes when it is emptied of urine. When, at times, you wait a long time to empty your bladder, it becomes overstretched and the bladder muscle is weakened. In this state, it does not completely empty the bladder and retains some urine, which increases the risk of infection.
When you have urinary infections, you have a strong urge to urinate. The act of urination is followed by sharp pain and a burning sensation in the urethra. Some times, even when the urge is great, very little urine is released. This frequent urge to urinate is one of the first symptoms of urinary infections. As always, it is advisable to get a proper diagnosis, since during menopause similar symptoms can cause vaginal or vulva-related infections.
Ways to Prevent Urinary Infections during Menopause
The usual treatment is a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics need to be taken as prescribed and continued until the full treatment is complete. There are certain ways that you can prevent urinary infections from occurring:
- First and foremost is to practice good personal hygiene.
- After a bowel movement or urination, wash the area around the rectum and the vagina thoroughly and ensure it is dried properly.
- Washing before and after sexual intercourse is a way of preventing urinary infections. Some doctors recommend urinating before and after sexual intercourse to flush out bacteria.
- Drink plenty of water to ensure flushing out of bacteria from the urinary tract. Do not accumulate urine in the bladder, and empty it out at the earliest to reduce the risk of infections.
- Cotton panties, or panties with a cotton crotch, is recommended as cotton allows moisture to evaporate. Moist environment is a breeding ground for bacteria.
Sexually active women can change sexual positions to cause less friction on the urethra. Women who tend to have frequent urinary infections are advised to take antibiotics after sexual intercourse.
The information in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.