Estrogen may help prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in post-menopausal women. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are particularly common in women, with 25 percent experiencing recurrent UTIs. Menopausal women are at a higher risk of UTIs, which has been shown to be linked to lower estrogen levels.
When bacteria enter the bladder, antimicrobial peptides inside the bladder are sent off to fight against the infection. Normally, this first line of defense is enough to stop the bacteria and reduce their chance of multiplying. This self-defense ability, however, is reduced in post-menopausal women, so their body can’t resist the infection as efficiently.
For the study, the researchers treated post-menopausal women with estrogen for 14 days and then analyzed cells excreted in the urine. The researchers found that estrogen acts as a glue for the gaps between the cells in the bladder lining, healing them. This makes it difficult for bacteria to infiltrate the bladder lining.
Lead researcher Dr. Annelie Brauner said, “During menopause, women have low levels of estrogen, and therefore also low levels of antimicrobial peptides as well as a damaged lining of the lumen in the urinary tract. This will give the bacteria opportunity to reach the underlying tissue, where they can hide and stay until they are triggered to cause a new infection. By treating post-menopausal women locally with estrogen, the cells lining the bladder are strengthened and the body’s own defense against infection is improved, making women better suited to fight infections.”
To treat a urinary tract infection, your doctor will first prescribe general antibiotics until the results of your urine test come back indicating the exact bacterium that caused the UTI. Then, your doctor may change your antibiotics to specifically target that strain of bacteria.
Other treatment options include drinking pure cranberry juice – not the sugary kind – or consuming cranberry extract.
Here are some alternative tips to help treat UTIs with home remedies and prevent future episodes of the infection.