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Harvard Health Blog
An emerging link between the urinary microbiome and urinary incontinence
- By Jeannine Miranne, MD, MS, Contributor
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Very interesting discovery of the link between incontinence and the biome. Seems very similar to OpenBiome and their work on the impact of fecal transplants in improving rectal health.
Given the different types of incontinence like stress induced, urge, overlflow etc, it would be interesting to learn whether stress causes the change in the biome, or if it is the other way around.
As a woman whose urinary incontinence began as stress-based when I was 8 years old but evolved into urine loss when there is a sudden need to urinate, this is interesting and exciting. Incontinence is not only inconvenient but embarrassing. Keep all of us women updated, please.
I agree with azure. The biome issue may have come after the incontinence, cystitis etc. because all the “good bugs” were wiped out by an antibiotic that the person was taking for the problem.
Nevertheless, one should replenish their biome after antibiotics.
Both the probiotic treatment studies mentioned were done with lactobacillus vaginal suppositories. Males certainly have Urgency Incontinence and are their urinary tract microbiome different than their fellow males also? I am not sure oral probiotic treatment would be efficacious.
“including overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, have an altered urinary microbiome.” Which comes first, interstitial cystitis or the altered microbiome? The article states only it’s a chicken & egg problem, i.e, which comes first– so while it establishes that there’s data showing the urine isn’t sterile, it doesn’t say one way or the other what the effects of having low levels of bacteria in urine have on healthy bodily functioning or causing a change in functioning (for the worse). Only that it seems as though those who can afford to have the kind of testing that shows the very low levels of a variety of organisms there’s a change in urinary microbiomes. There was no disclosure regarding whether or not researchers (or the writer of this article) get funding from manufacturers of commercial probiotic products–or if they didn’t.
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Better Bladder and Bowel Control: Practical strategies for managing incontinence
Most people take bladder and bowel control for granted — until something goes wrong. An estimated 32 million Americans have incontinence, the unintended loss of urine or feces that is significant enough to make it difficult for them to maintain good hygiene and carry on ordinary social and work lives. The good news is that treatments are becoming more effective and less invasive. This Special Health Report, Better Bladder and Bowel Control, describes the causes of urinary and bowel incontinence, and treatments tailored to the specific cause.
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