Why am I getting UTIs now? I hardly ever got them before.

Because urinary tract infections (UTIs) can increase with age and menopause. It’s all part of a syndrome in which loss of hormones makes our genitourinary tissue more fragile and prone to breakdown and, thus, infection. Our female anatomy—short urethra in a warm, moist location near our other orifices—creates an inviting greenhouse for bacterial growth. Ironically, even intimacy can cause a UTI because it invites the migration of bacteria from one spot to another.

But take heart! As with most things menopausal, prevention techniques and treatment options are available.  There are ways to mitigate the effects of genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM) on the bladder and ways to prevent them.

  1. Stay hydrated. It sounds counterintuitive, but drinking plenty of plain water will keep your system moisturized and it will help prevent UTIs. The only caveats are not to go overboard with the hydration and perhaps not to drink liquids close to bedtime if nighttime urges wake you up.
  2. Avoid caffeine in all its forms. Caffeine isn’t hydrating, and as you know, it just makes you pee more. If you’ve got a Diet Coke habit, be aware that carbonated drinks combine caffeine and carbonation as bladder irritants, adding to the urgency and frequency of urination.
  3. Drink cranberry juice. While overly acidic foods and beverages may not sit well with your system, cranberry juice, while not a definitive cure, proves beneficial for some women. Tablet forms may also be effective.
  4. Lose weight. Excess weight puts extra pressure on the pelvic floor, bladder included. Losing weight and staying active can help prevent episodes of both incontinence and UTIs.
  5. Pee before and after you are intimate with your partner, especially if you tend to tinkle during the act. This will help with both involuntary leaking and to prevent a UTI.
  6. Keep your bottom extra clean. Wash regularly with a mild, moisturizing soap to keep UTI-causing bacteria in check.

If you still find yourself struggling with UTIs after trying these things, talk to your doctor. Good luck!