As summer approaches the days get longer, the weather gets warmer, and urinary tract infections become more prevalent. Unfair as it seems, transitioning through menopause makes us all-the-more susceptible. Just like with the vagina (see What Gives?), the decline of estrogen during menopause also impacts the urinary tract. Tissues become more fragile and lose elasticity, when estrogen is low, increasing the risk of injury and inflammation. Also common is a shift in pH that is more hospitable to bacteria.
Hanging out in a wet bathing suit, increased physical activity, working up a good sweat, and having sex are all done with greater frequency during the summer. As fun and as good for us as these activities may be, they can also increase our likelihood of developing a UTI by causing stress to vulnerable tissue. Luckily there are interventions, beyond the obvious—stay hydrated, wipe from front to back, urinate after intercourse—that can keep us UTI-free this summer.
To counter the drop in estrogen, local application of the hormone (vaginal creams and suppositories) can be very effective as can broader reaching hormone replacement therapy (oral, transdermal). Probiotics, especially ones that target genitourinary tissue, like Jarrow Formulas Fem-Dophilus and RepHresh Pro-B, are also supportive. Although designed to be taken orally, vaginal administration of these probiotics can be beneficial as well.
Most menopausal woman are aware that cranberries help thwart infections of the urinary tract. What they may not know is that a specific component in cranberry—mannose—is largely responsible for the anti-infective action. When ingested, mannose makes its way to the bladder where the troublesome E. coli bacteria cling to it instead of the bladder wall resulting in the flushing (literally) away of the bad bugs.
Mannose is available in supplement form (D-Mannose) and I keep it on hand to nip things in the bud should I ever feel symptomatic. Taking it after intercourse can be protective, especially for the highly susceptible. I think of D-Mannose more as a treatment (taken only when needed) and as a general preventative, I take cranberry extract daily. Anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, cranberries have much to offer—a decrease in dental plaque is a bonus effect.
To be UTI-free this summer it is important to start interventions now—add “urinary tract” to your spring cleaning list! And, since we do even more of the things that contribute to our developing a UTI—hanging out in a wet bathing suit, increased physical activity, working up a good sweat, and having sex—during spring-break and summer vacation; remember to pack some cranberry extract and D-Mannose before heading to the beach!
These Better-Fat-Burner Baby Back Ribs, cooked on the grill, will get you psyched for summer!
The recipe is below and calls for “barbeque sauce”. Because most commercial BBQ sauce contains who-knows-what, I like to make my own with whatever I have on hand. For the ribs I “stick blended” tomato paste with several shakes of chipotle Tabasco sauce, some cumin, a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a squirt of lime juice and spicy brown mustard, a handful of cherries, some crushed garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
Becoming a #BetterFatBurner helps you stay UTI-free!
Here are this week’s BFB links:
Own the Change!