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Menopause and Urinary Tract Infections

As you enter menopause, your body begins going through significant changes. The decreased hormone production that occurs during this time causes you to encounter common symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, vaginal dryness, insomnia, and more. Another menopausal issue women should know about is an increased risk of urinary tract infection.

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Causes
Urinary tract infections, or, UTIs, occur when there is an abundance of bacteria in your kidneys, urethra, or bladder. There are several types of bacteria that can cause these painful infections, but the most common one is E. coli. There are multiple reasons for bacteria to accumulate. Pregnancy, kidney stones, frequent sexual intercourse, and improper wiping technique (you should always wipe front to back) can all contribute to UTIs.

During menopause, your estrogen levels decline. When this happens, your bladder loses some of its elasticity, which can translate into an inability to completely empty one's bladder. This promotes the growth of bacteria, which in turn causes UTIs. Urine also becomes less acidic during menopause, making it easier for bacteria to survive.

Symptoms
UTIs have several telltale signs. If you experience a sudden continual urge to urinate, a burning sensation when you do, or have cloudy, bloody and/or strong smelling urine, or pelvic pain, you could have a UTI. Chills, vomiting, nausea, and dizziness could be signs of a more serious UTI. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should visit your doctor immediately. If you fail to deal with a UTI in a timely manner, it could lead to serious and permanent kidney damage. Pregnant women with a UTI could even enter into premature birth.

Remedies
Fortunately, UTIs are usually quite simple to treat, provided they're treated quickly. Medically speaking, antibiotics are the most common and effective way to treat UTIs. There are also natural ways of handling UTIs, such as the consumption of cranberries or cranberry juice. The high amount of Vitamin C found in cranberries increases the acidity of urine, which makes it an inhospitable place for bacteria. But if you already have an infection, it's best to see your doctor and start treatment as soon as possible.

One of the best remedies for UTIs is simply prevention. Make sure to flush your system daily with plenty of water, wipe from front to back, avoid using scented soaps around your urethra, don't hold your urine for long periods of time, and make sure to urinate after sex.

Avoiding certain foods when you have a UTI will lessen irritation. Among the offending foods are sugar (bacteria thrive on sugar), acidic fruits, spicy foods, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine.

Most importantly, remember that when trying to overcome a UTI, your health care provider is the one who can prescribe safe and effective treatment. Not treating an infection is not an option. ♀

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