"Treat the disease, you win some, you lose some. Treat the patient, you always win."
~Patch Adams~

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How Estrogen May Help Prevent UTIs After Menopause

I'm guessing that a lot of my readers can relate to the problem of recurrent urinary tract infections, particularly in the peri/postmenopausal stages of life.  The infections usually cause frequent and/or painful urination, and can cause significant pelvic discomfort.  The usual treatment is antibiotics, and from many women I have talked to, they end up on antibiotics several times a year, if not more often.  The antibiotics can  have a whole range of side effects, and it's important to note that after a number of courses of treatment, the body can build a resistance to the antibiotics, and stronger antibiotics have to be used.

I think a better approach is to address the issues surrounding why so many peri/post menopausal women get frequent urinary tract infections in the first place, and one of those reasons is the genital and urethral tissue becoming thinner and more fragile with the loss of estrogen.  Most peri/post menopausal women notice vaginal dryness and/or atrophy as they age, but are often too embarrassed to talk to their doctor's about it (and we will address that in a separate post!)  This is not just a matter of sexual health (although that is very important) but about urological health.

A study detailed on WebMd.com discusses using vaginal estrogen in post menopausal women to alleviate the deterioration of the genital tissue.  The article is not specific as to whether bioidentical estrogen was used, and if so, if the estrogen used was estradiol, or the weaker form of estrogen, estriol.  I have taken estriol cream vaginally for about 5 years (and writing this post reminded me that I need to call the pharmacy to order more!)  I have not had a urinary tract infection in years, and I attribute that post menopausally to the estriol cream.  I have it compounded, and it's about $100 for a three month supply.  Not having to be on antibiotics (I haven't been on an antibiotic since 2007, and that was for a bug bite I scratched too hard in my sleep!) is wonderful.  Ironically, when I was younger, I was one of those women who used to get a vaginal infection every time I was on an antibiotic (which was frequently, I taught high school and spent much of every winter battling upper respiratory infections and strep throat).

Talk to your doctor about using bioidentical estrogen for vaginal dryness/atrophy.  I have a couple good articles to share with you, so hopefully I will be able to post several times this week.  Happy first full week of summer!