Q: Is my lubricant causing UTIs?
It’s not typical that use of a lube causes a UTI. What is much more likely is the activity of intercourse itself causes UTIs.
Women have a very short urethra, from the outer skin up to the lower bladder, and bacteria can quite easily access the bladder. When you add the changes of menopause—less blood supply and thinner, more fragile tissues—it is a set up for recurrent UTIs in women (with or without intercourse). We refer to this condition as the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, because the changes impact the vulva, vagina, and the bladder; it is directly related to the hormone changes of menopause.
Some women use an antibiotic each time they have sex to try to reduce the occurrences of UTIs. Make sure you empty your bladder soon after sex. Note that cleaning the surrounding skin doesn’t make a difference; it’s simply impossible to sterilize the environment.
For many women, what works is to “re-estrogenize” the genitals, making the tissues heartier and healthy to resist the recurrence of UTIs. There are numerous prescription products, including a couple are non-estrogen options, that can be used to restore health to the genitals.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten. Read more about and from her here.
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