How Menopause Affects a Woman's Urinary Tract

What Will Happen To Your Vagina During Menopause

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As you grow older, you may notice some changes to your nether regions that adversely affect your intimate life. What might you expect as you approach menopause?

How Will Menopause Affect My Vaginal and Sexual Health?

As you approach menopause, you'll notice a few shifts in your body. For one, the walls of your vagina will become thinner, dryer, less elastic, and more vulnerable to infection. These changes alone can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable or painful.

 

Tissues in the urinary tract also change with age, sometimes leaving women more susceptible to incontinence, particularly if certain chronic illnesses or urinary infections are also present. With growing incontinence, exercise, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or performing any other movement that put pressure on the bladder may cause small amounts of urine to leak. Lack of regular physical exercise may contribute to this condition.

It's important to know, however, that incontinence is not a normal part of aging, to be masked by using adult diapers. Rather, it is usually a treatable condition that warrants medical evaluation. In fact, recent research has shown that bladder training is a simple and effective treatment for most cases of incontinence and is less expensive and safer than medication or surgery.

Finally, within four or five years after your final menstrual period, there is an increased chance of vaginal and urinary tract infections.

 

What Can I Do To Manage the Less Pleasant Aspects of Menopause?

If intercourse has become painful, you may want to try using a personal lubricant during partner play. Water-soluble lubricants are typically recommended as being the best tool for the job, as they help reduce the chance of infection. 

You should avoid products such as petroleum jelly, as many women are allergic, and it can damage condoms.

 

If incontinence is your issue, there are a number of treatment options, any number of which your doctor may recommend based upon the severity of your particular problem. One of the more attractive options is bladder training, as it's noninvasive and won't cost you a thing. You might also try scheduling trips to the toilet or changing your diet.

More medical options include pelvic floor exercises, medication, the use of a medical device, surgery, or even the use of a catheter.

If symptoms such as painful or overly frequent urination occur, as in the case of a urinary tract infection, consult your doctor. Infections are easily treated with antibiotics, but often tend to recur. To help prevent these infections, urinate before and after intercourse, be sure your bladder is not full for long periods, drink plenty of fluids, and keep your genital area clean.

Douching is not thought to be effective in preventing infection.

In all cases, be sure to see your gynecologist if problems persist.

Further Reading

Vaginal Dryness.

 Vaginal dryness is a symptom of menopause that can damage your quality of life and affect your sexual relationship, but it is one that most women do not report to their physicians.

Urinary Tract Infections. A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection that occurs when bacteria invade the urinary tract system. While the majority of UTIs are not serious, they often cause severe symptoms such as pain and/or burning upon urination.

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