To their consternation, many menopausal women can suddenly develop constipation, as a result in the change in their hormones slowing down transit time in their bowels. Whenever I’m contacted by a woman who is getting recurring UTIs, one of the questions I ask is ‘Do you also suffer with constipation?’
Your rectum and your colon are right behind your bladder. If you are constipated and not eliminating waste via the bowel, the rectum (with the accumulated stool) starts pressing on the bladder. This might prevent you from emptying your bladder completely when you pee. The longer the urine sits in the bladder, the greater chance that bacteria will grow in the urine leading to a UTI.
Constipation can lead to high levels of E. coli bacteria (the cause of most UTIs) in the rectum, increasing the risk that they could spread to the urinary tract and thus increase the likelihood of a UTI. Constipation can cause stool to move slowly through your colon. Slow-moving stool is a great place for E. coli bacteria to flourish.
Furthermore, after menopause, there is a decrease in the protective normal vaginal bacteria, so if stool bacteria get into that area, they can easily grow and travel into the bladder. Diarrhoea or loose stools are also hidden risk factors for UTIs. The bacteria in loose stools can easily make their way into the urinary tract. This makes bowel hygiene of the utmost importance to prevent this from happening, ensuring you clean yourself thoroughly after a bowel movement, not vigorously, and wipe from front to back.
The bladder also loses its volume and elasticity with age, which can prevent complete emptying of the bladder. Some postmenopausal women with atrophy (thinning of the vaginal walls) can also develop small cuts near the urethra, which may predispose them to UTIs.
For more information about managing menopausal symptoms, you can download our Menopause and Gut Health Guide here.
Bottom line – avoid constipation!
You can see why it’s so important to ensure you are emptying your bowel regularly.
Even if you eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fibre and healthy fat, and lead an active life, the transition through menopause brings additional challenges in the form of hormonal changes, an aging liver, slower gut activity, stress, and worrying over menopausal symptoms, and these factors can all contribute to the complicated condition of constipation.
If you are prone to recurring UTIs and constipation, I recommend this protocol:
Take one of our Live Bacteria probiotic capsules with a small glass of cold water upon rising, one Digestive Enzymes tablet before lunch and one before dinner and a For Women probiotic capsule before bed. If you’re not eating oily fish at least three times weekly, I advise you take one of our high-strength Omega 3 fish oil capsules to help strengthen your immune system, thus helping to reduce the UTIs, and to help add lubrication to your bowels.
If you would like more information about a tailored supplement protocol, please get in touch.