Millions of women suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs) each year – they account for 25% of ALL infections in the US!(1) For younger women, UTIs are a nuisance and cause suffering and economic losses, but in the elderly, UTIs can turn deadly. Most people understand that women are more susceptible to UTIs than men are because of differences in anatomy. The shorter urethra and smaller distance from anus to urethral opening in women allows easy access for UTI-causing bacteria. But did you know that the vagina also serves as a reservoir of bacteria that can live in the urethra as well?
Contrary to popular belief, healthy urine, urethras, and bladders are not sterile, but host a variety of microorganisms. In individual women, the urinary microbiome is similar to the vaginal microbiome– women with high vaginal lactobacilli levels (the good kind of bacteria) also had lots of lactobacilli in the urine(2), while women with fewer vaginal lactobacilli are at higher risk for developing UTIs.
During menopause, falling estrogen levels cause the vaginal microbiome to shift away from a lactobacillus-dominant ecosystem. The loss of protective lactobacilli is the main cause of the increased rate of UTI after menopause.
Supporting the vaginal microbiome, whether before or after menopause, may reduce the frequency of UTIs. Vaginal estrogen after menopause can improve the vaginal microbiome and reduce UTIs. And in pre-menopausal women, a clinical trial showed vaginal Lactobacillus crispatus probiotics (hint: this is a primary strain in BiopHresh!) were able to reduce the risk of UTIs by half.(3) All in all, better vaginal health means better urinary tract health, too.References
- Al-Badr A, Al-Shaikh G. Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women: A review. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2013;13(3):359-367. doi:10.12816/0003256
- Brown SE, Robinson CK, Shardell MD, et al. Assessing the Concordance Between Urogenital and Vaginal Microbiota: Can Urine Specimens Be Used as a Proxy for Vaginal Samples? Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021;11:671413. doi:10.3389/fcimb.2021.671413
- Stapleton AE. The Vaginal Microbiota and Urinary Tract Infection. Microbiol Spectr. 2016;4(6). doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.UTI-0025-2016