Anyone who has suffered from a UTI knows that vaginal itching and dryness isn’t merely an inconvenience—it can ruin your whole week. Worse yet, if you have chronic vaginal dryness, it can be hard to tell when you have a UTI thrown into the mix, too. So, let’s talk about why UTIs and vaginal dryness are connected and what you can do about them.
What Are UTIs?
UTI stands for urinary tract infection, an infection that can be triggered by a variety of lifestyle factors. Your urinary tract includes your kidneys, urethra, ureters, and bladder, and getting an infection there is not fun. Left untreated, UTIs can be dangerous. While bladder infections are typically just irritating, if the infection progresses to your kidneys, they are at risk for permanent damage. Women are especially prone to UTIs because of their short urethras, and sexual activity can increase your likelihood of developing a UTI.
UTIs and Vaginal Dryness: What’s the Connection?
Estrogen is a hardworking hormone, and it serves so many purposes in the female body. One of the benefits of estrogen is that it can protect you from chronic UTIs. Studies have found that estrogen contributes to your body’s production of antimicrobial proteins and supports your urinary tract’s tissue.
Once women begin menopause, their estrogen production slows down, and their urinary tract becomes more vulnerable to chronic infections. Further complicating the matter is the fact that diminished estrogen production can have symptoms that mimic UTIs. When women stop producing as much estrogen as they used to, vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual activity can occur. And those symptoms aren’t very far off from the symptoms of UTIs.
How Can You Avoid UTIs?
If you’re not sure if the itching and discomfort you feel is vaginal dryness or a UTI, it’s crucial to find out. Since UTIs can quickly become a serious health issue, if there’s any chance you have one, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Typically, a course of antibiotics can clear up the infection. Avoiding UTIs in the first place is a bit trickier. But there are a few ways to reduce your risk of future infections.
First, make sure you stay hydrated, never go too long without peeing (including right after sex!), wear cotton underwear, and switch to showers instead of baths. Next, consider your birth control method. If you use diaphragms, spermicide, or spermicidal condoms, these can all increase your risk for UTIs. Also, wiping the wrong way can cause fecal matter to come in contact with the urethra, which is another risk factor for developing a UTI.
How to Find Relief
Since declining estrogen production is sometimes the culprit for both vaginal dryness and UTIs, some women may opt to take estrogen to ease their symptoms. However, estrogen isn’t an option for everyone since the risks of taking it (like increased risk for cancer, blood clots, and stroke) may outweigh the support it provides.
For those who can’t or don’t want to use estrogen, natural supplements can help ease vaginal dryness. Membrasin® offers the only clinically proven vaginal moisture supplement. Try the Membrasin® 2-Step Starter Pack, which comes with the Vitality Pearls oral supplement to help support healthy vaginal function from the inside, and the Intimate Moisture Cream that helps protect, repair and moisturize the external genital skin.