Best Health

I AM PERIMENOPA­USAL AND GETTING A LOT OF URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS. IS THIS A COINCIDENC­E?

- DR. RUTH HEISEY is chief of the Department of Family & Community Medicine at Women’s College Hospital, womensheal­thmatters.ca @WCHospital and @DrRuthHeis­ey

THE DOCTOR SAYS…

AH YES, MENOPAUSE. MANY CHANGES HAPpen during this time of life, some of which you can control and others, less so. Menopause and urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be related. During menopause, your ovaries stop producing hormones. This can cause many changes to your health, including weight gain, loss of bone strength, hot flashes and changes to the vaginal tissues and urinary tract.

Many women experience more UTIs at this time. Others complain about irritating symptoms, such as feeling mild pain with urination and having the sensation that they need to pass urine immediatel­y, rather than fullblown infections.

If you have these symptoms, it’s best to see your healthcare provider and take a urine test to see if you have a bacterial infection that may require antibiotic­s. If not, it’s likely due to tissue changes from the lack of hormones. The good news is that these symptoms may improve with low-dose local estrogen therapy, either in the form of a tablet or a ring inserted inside the vagina.

Other ways to prepare for this stage of life include being active (150 minutes of exercise a week is ideal, but reward yourself for any activity) and following a healthy diet. Try to have seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day, avoid adding salt to your food and choose foods that are high in calcium, such as dairy products, canned salmon and calcium-fortified beverages. Taking a vitamin D supplement (1,000 IUs) daily and drinking alcohol only in moderation – or not at all – can also help your body during this change.

There are many natural products that can help provide relief from menopausal symptoms, but there isn’t a lot of evidence to support their use or ensure their safety. If you’re considerin­g using a natural product, speak to your healthcare provider for more informatio­n.

Also, be sure to see your healthcare provider regularly for checkups at this time to ensure that you’re having regular PAP smears, mammograms, bowel screenings, cholestero­l tests, bone density tests and blood pressure measuremen­ts. Stay healthy!

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