You apparently don’t need to be told that the vagina is a complicated organ. This complexity carries many benefits, although it can also be a double-edged sword as it also suggests that there are lots of things that can go wrong, particularly during perimenopause. Your vagina needs a proper balance of good and bad bacteria to maintain a wholesome state.
Fluctuating levels of hormones and bacteria happen to alter the balance, resulting in challenging symptoms and conditions. When the vaginal balance becomes upset, the two most common problems that arise are urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Urinary tract infections
If you are experiencing intense stinging pain when peeing or feeling an urgency (and discover you have nothing or little to pass), there is a high chance you have acquired a UTI. UTIs have the capacity of making you feel quite awful and have you dread simple processes like urination. However, as they can cause kidney infections, it’s necessary to treat them immediately.
Firstly, understand that bacterial vaginosis is actually quite common. Since the manifestations of BV are very bothersome, this can be extremely frustrating and usually causes embarrassment – especially when it comes to sexual intercourse. The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis can vary from woman to woman, but usually, the condition is identified by a fishy odor and a thin, off-white, greyish, or yellow vaginal discharge. Some women encounter itchiness or inflammation too.
Why do women experience recurrent BV during perimenopause?
One research of 1,486 smears recorded that 5.4% of postmenopausal women using HRT and 6.3% of postmenopausal women without HRT displayed positive results when tested for BV. Although bacterial vaginosis can occur at any age, perimenopausal and postmenopausal women develop it frequently due to decreasing levels of estrogen, which performs a vital role in maintaining the vaginal flora levels.
Estrogen stimulates the good bacteria – lactobacillus to grow. These bacteria provide an acidic environment to the vagina, reducing its pH. Naturally, the vagina is slightly acidic in nature which keeps the bad bacteria away. So when estrogen levels begin to diminish during perimenopause, the bad bacteria flourishes, and BV can occur.
Reasons for recurrent UTIs
So is the case with UTIs. In fact, research has confirmed that UTI is the most frequently occurring bacterial infection in both young and aged women. Recurrent UTIs can occur in females at any point in their life and have the same reason, the imbalance of vaginal flora.
Having a lot of sexual intercourse is known to be one of the major contributors to the development of a UTI. That’s because having sex can transfer the vaginal bacteria to the urinary tract. During perimenopause, particularly after menopause, frequent sex might not be the major reason. Your UTIs are probably occurring due to hormonal fluctuations. These fluctuations can result in vaginal atrophy or incontinence/trouble emptying your bladder fully. There is a connection between recurrent UTIs and vaginal atrophy.
What is the prevention and treatment for BV and UTIs?
BV is usually treated with antibiotics but doesn’t always prove to be a really good idea as it destroys the good bacteria in your gut as well. This can result in yeast infections or recurrences of BV.
If you suspect you have developed BV or you test positive for it, you should try out some pessaries containing probiotics and lactic acid that replenish the vaginal flora. There are several products available in the market that rebalance vaginal pH and flora. Most importantly, they won’t cause any other health problems.
Preventing BV can be difficult because numerous things can alter the pH and kill good bacteria. Antibiotics, douching, using fragrant products, consuming a sugar-laden diet, or smoking can all contribute. Changing your lifestyle is a good idea if you are receiving recurrent BV.
Consider applying condoms if you believe semen is disturbing your pH, and don’t use douches to keep your vagina clean. Cotton undergarments are best, and a healthy probiotic supplement can also help.
For preventing UTIs, improving your urination habits is essential. When urinating, make sure to relax your pelvic floor and not hurry to empty the bladder. As it can always benefit, urinating after sex flushes away the bacteria that may have entered your urinary tract.
There are numerous natural UTI remedies women can try. Juices and cranberry extracts are usually reported to produce great results, and studies authenticate this. Supplements might be better than juices as they contain much lesser sugar content than commercial juices. Again, antibiotics do not prove to be a good option because of the possibility of acquiring yeast infections. Although it is not proven, apple cider vinegar is considered to help a lot, as it carries chlorogenic acid. This might decrease the production of inflammatory elements that make the UTI symptoms worse. Vitamin C is also stated to produce positive outcomes. Vaginal estrogen creams or rings might help to replace the bacterial balance in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.
No doubt, recurrent BV, and UTIs can prove stressful, but once you understand what needs to be done about them, it shouldn’t be too challenging to manage them once and for all.