The Link Between Urinary Tract Health and Vaginal Health

The vaginal microbiome is a collective term for all of the microorganisms, including bacteria and yeast, that are present within the vagina. The vaginal microbiome is complex and constantly changing which shifts in its composition continuously throughout both a woman’s menstrual cycle and throughout different stages of her life. Research suggests that there’s a strong relationship between the urinary and vaginal microbiome. Both microbiomes have been shown to contain high levels of Lactobacillus. Not only do the vaginal and urinary microbiomes share bacteria, but they’ve also been shown to mutually influence one another. A healthy vaginal microbiome is in an optimal state when it is dominated by protective bacteria like lactobacilli that serve as a critical layer of protection against pathogens, but when something disrupts this balanced environment, the amount of protective bacteria present decreases, allowing disruptive bacteria to come in. The vaginal microbiome is sensitive and can be thrown off balance by many factors which can alter the vagina’s pH balance increasing the risk of infection.

 

  • Microbial Balance: Both the urinary tract and vagina harbor various bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. In a healthy state, these microorganisms coexist in a balanced ecosystem, helping to prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and maintaining the pH balance.

  • Infections: Imbalances in the vaginal microbiome can lead to infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), bacterial vaginosis, and yeast infections. For example, bacteria like Escherichia coli (E. coli), which normally inhabit the intestines, can migrate from the rectum to the urethra and cause UTIs. Similarly, changesin vaginal pH or bacterial composition can increase the risk of UTIs.

  • Hormonal Influence: Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can affect both vaginal and urinary tract health. For instance, decreased estrogen levels during menopause can lead to vaginal dryness and thinning of vaginal tissues, which may increase the risk of UTIs.

  • Anatomical Factors: The proximity of the urinary tract to the vagina means that anatomical factors, such as the length and position of the urethra, can influence susceptibility to infections. In women, the urethra is shorter than in men, making it easier for bacteria to travel from the vagina to the bladder and cause UTIs.

  • Hygiene Practices: Certain hygiene practices, such as wiping from front to back after using the bathroom, can help prevent the spread of bacteria from the anal region to the urinary tract and vagina.

 

Women with higher levels of Lactobacillus in their vagina are at a lower risk of recurring UTIs. Incorporating products such as UT-Fem Balance, UT-Fem’s specialized Vaginal Probiotic can help support a healthy balance of vaginal and urinary tract microflora. UT-Fem’s Probiotic is a targeted probiotic that is specially formulated to cultivate a healthy vaginal & urinary microbiome. Supporting and protecting the vaginal microbiome with probiotics such as UT-Fem Balance can support Lactobacillus growth, the urinary microbiome also develops more ‘good' bacteria and has a greater chance of resisting infection.

 

[i] Chen X, et al. The Female Vaginal Microbiome in Health and Bacterial Vaginosis. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2020; 11: 631972.