Harvard Women's Health Watch

Stopping repeated urinary tract infections

What to do when these common infections keep returning.

Men might have prostate problems, but we women have our own urinary issues to contend with—including urinary tract infections. Throughout our lives, our short urethra gives the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) a relatively easy access route to our bladder. That's part of the reason one in every two women is likely to develop a UTI at some point in her life.

After menopause, the drop in estrogen increases our susceptibility to infection-causing bacteria. In women of reproductive age, estrogen prevents harmful bacteria from colonizing the vagina, keeps the vaginal pH levels low (which also discourages bacterial habitation), and promotes the growth of "friendly" bacteria—the kind that protect against UTIs.

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