Urinary tract infections increase in both frequency and intensity during and after the menopausal years. The walls of the vagina get thinner and their ability to self-lubricate decreases during menopause. Some women report feeling frustrated when they would like to be intimate with a partner but feel as though their bodies cannot or will not respond appropriately. This can cause a rift between partners if communication is not open and honest and this may even lead a woman to suffer through very painful intercourse. When this lack of intimate response occurs, artificial lubrication may be used to create a safer, more comfortable and often more pleasurable experience for all parties. It is better to use water-based lubricants than petroleum-based lubricants as petroleum based lubricants can damage prophylactics, leading to the accidental spread of disease or unintended pregnancy. Also, many women are allergic to petroleum-based products, and internal allergic reactions are among some of the most painful possible. Intercourse can, and should, be a pleasant experience for all women, menopausal or not. Unfortunately, due to the myriad of intimate changes menopausal women are going through, intercourse is a leading cause of all urinary tract infections.
Women may experience urinary tract infections in different ways, but there are a few common signs to look out for. Incontinence is often an indication that there is an infection. Incontinence can happen in a variety of situations. Sometimes a cough, sneeze or laugh may cause urine leakage. Some women describe their incontinence as urine that escapes the body before they are ready. For instance, she may make her way to the restroom not feeling the need to urinate urgently, but will not complete the process of disrobing before urine starts to escape. Regardless of what you see on television, incontinence is NOT a natural part of aging for women, and there are treatments available to alleviate the problem. Incontinence is also not strictly associated with UTIs. Damage, weak musculature, and imbalanced hormones may also lead to incontinence. Pads and adult diapers are not a solution, and may even contribute to the problem. If you notice that you are passing urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh, or that you can’t control the passing of the urine, see your doctor.