When you’re dealing with the recurrent pain and discomfort of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI), a popular menopause treatment might not come to mind. But research is showing that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might make a big difference.
A new study showed that women who were undergoing HRT for menopause symptoms had a greater variety of healthy bacteria in their urine, which translated into a substantially lower likelihood of UTI or recurrent UTIs.
Estrogen therapy was noted to have an association with a higher number of healthy Lactobacillus bacteria that are known to protect against UTI. Researchers said estrogen stimulates vaginal cells to create food for Lactobacillus, allowing the strain to flourish and provide protective benefits.
The research team looked at a small sample size of 75 women to arrive at their results. Participants were divided into three groups:
- A group that had never had a UTI.
- A group that had experienced recurrent UTIs in the past.
- A group that was currently infected and had been before.
Through urinary analysis, researchers discovered that women with recurrent UTIs had a minimal bacterial population. On the other hand, women who did not experience UTIs had ten times the diversity in their bacterial population.
Lastly, about half of the women undergoing HRT had more Lactobacillus apparent in their urine.
This study, of course, does not prove cause and effect. Still, it does indicate a potential need for clinical trials examining the effects of hormone therapy as a possible treatment for UTI.
The current treatment for UTI is antibiotics. Some people suggest taking probiotic supplements may help limit or prevent UTI recurrence, but more research is required. At this point, dosing and duration are very unclear.
If you’ve been considering estrogen therapy to help manage menopause symptoms, it is possible that another positive effect could be a lower risk for recurring UTIs. If you’re not, you could try and find natural ways to boost estrogen and microbe diversity. Some things that might help include:
- Eat plant-based foods rich in phytoestrogens. Some examples include soybeans, flax seeds, and sesame seeds.
- Hit daily recommended intakes of B vitamin and vitamin D.
- Add fiber-rich prebiotic foods to your diet.