Estrogen and UTI prevention

Stress, aging, food, weather, chemicals, drugs, radiation … You name it … our bodies are constantly adjusting to a variety of internal and external factors. One of the ways we adjust is by producing different types and quantities of hormones to regulate the activity of our organs.

Estrogen is the sex hormone that gives females their sexual traits such as wider hips, larger breasts and additional body fat (men also produce a small amount of estrogen).

Why decreased estrogen?

Factors that could affect the levels of estrogen in your body. The main ones are:

  • Age: after menopause, our bodies produce less estrogen.
  • Chemicals, toxins, and radiation.
  • Surgeries and any disease that affects the ovaries.
  • Other factors such as anorexia, genetic diseases, thyroid problems and low body fat
  • Post-natal and breastfeeding times (temporarily)
  • Right before and right after your periods (temporarily).
Stress affects estrogen levels
Stress affects estrogen levels

So how do you know if you have low estrogen? To be frank, an attempt to self-diagnose, probably won’t work since the symptoms of low estrogen are also very similar to the symptoms of high estrogen. Check for yourself:

High estrogen: Hot flashes, weight gain, unstable moods, brain fog and heavy periods are signs of estrogen dominance.

Low estrogen: Dryness of the vagina, trouble sleeping, hot flashes, lack of sex drive, dry skin, unstable moods and light periods.

If you suspect that you might have low estrogen, talk to your physician to order a test.

Estrogen and UTI prevention

#1: Estrogen and healthy vaginal wall

Estrogen helps maintain the strength and thickness of the vaginal wall and the urethral lining and encourages vaginal lubrication. It strengthens the epithelial integrity preventing bacteria from reaching deeper layers of the urinary tract lining where it can otherwise hide.

#2: Estrogen and antimicrobial peptides

Estrogen makes your body produce natural antimicrobial peptides making the epithelium (that lines much of the urinary tract including the renal pelvis, the ureters, the bladder and parts of the urethra) stronger in the face of E. coli attack.

#3 Estrogen and lactobacillus

Studies show that when women are given estrogen hormones their vaginal Lactobacillus flora increased and as a result the vaginal pH decreased (a vaginal pH of 5 or less is acidic enough to interfere with the adhesion of E. coli). Therefore, hormonal balance is critical to maintaining healthy vaginal flora.

How to increase estrogen?

Once you have established that you have low estrogen levels, your physician might prescribe you hormones that can be taken orally, as well as topical estrogen. Given the effects of estrogen on your vaginal flora, no wonder there are more and more studies demonstrating that estrogen treatment delivered vaginally may help prevent repeat urinary tract infections.

I suggest you also find out what causes your low levels of estrogen and try to fix the core issue, if possible. You can do a lot with changing your lifestyle and diet to increase the levels of estrogen, as well as using bio-identical estrogen products but that is a topic for another post.

If you have an older female relative who suffers from frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), please share this information with her and her doctor. As you know, with the current state of medicine, physicians are more likely to “play it safe” and prescribe preventive doses of antibiotics to keep bacteria at bay, however, this approach builds up antibiotic resistance and comes with various side-effects.

Check out other ways to prevent UTI naturally:

8 thoughts on “Estrogen and UTI prevention”

  1. Hi Anastasia, First, thank you for this brilliant website. I am so happy to learn why utis happen and how to help yourself. Second, just to mention an additional reason I’ve experienced for low oestrogen: being post natal and then breastfeeding both naturally reduce it. Lactation suppresses oestrogen, I believe, and that’s why your menstrual cycle doesn’t resume usually until baby starts weaning.

    1. Thanks Cheryl 🙂 Made my day 🙂
      Great point. As well as right before and right after periods, actually. I’ll expand the post with this info.

  2. Hmmm, you may have just hit on something. I have had trouble voiding for some time now. I thought it was inflammation or lack of estrogen, but maybe it is caused by bladder stones. I will have to go see a urologist. I am not doing Cipro for now–we are doing a combination therapy instead of two intermediate antibiotics. Any sign that I am not improving in a couple of days (or getting worse), then I will switch to the evil Cipro. Thanks so much for your insights and support!

  3. Thank you very much! I have been looking through your site. I already take probiotics, but maybe I need to take more. Finally confirmed that I have Proteus Mirabilis. That’s a new one for me… normally I get resistant e. Coli. There are a couple of antibiotics that show sensitivity, including the awful Cipro. I think I’ll try the other one first.

    1. Hmm, that’s a rare one. Have they checked you for bladder stones?
      This bacteria is a tricky pathogen, so diligently follow doctor’s directions. P. mirabilis can quickly ascend to kidneys and turn into a life-threatening infection so even if you have to take the nasty Cipro, it’s worth it.
      Just focus all your efforts on prevention after the infection is cleared and hopefully this could be the last one.
      In terms of probiotics, it’s mostly the type of strain that matters, in regards to vaginal flora health.
      Best wishes,

  4. In my case, I am suffering extreme dryness, atrophy and multiple UTIs due to menopause and the drug Arimidex. I cannot take estrogen supplements because I had hormone positive breast cancer. Even Vagifem can get into the system and cause side effects such as nausea and breast tenderness. So, it is off limits for me. But I am getting recurring, recalcitrant UTIs. This last one has been really hard to treat, and I may have to get IV antibiotics at the hospital. Do you have any other suggestions for those of us who cannot take hormones?

    1. Hi Katy,
      Sounds like a tricky issue. Well, just brainstorming here, but estrogen levels impact number of good bacteria (various species of lactobacillus), perhaps taking probiotics could help? Have you discussed that with your doc?
      Reducing the number of pathogenic bacteria, healing your bladder lining, and reinforcing vaginal microbiome could be options to explore.
      Here are several posts to check out:
      1) What doctors don’t know
      2) Type of probiotics
      3) Hormones and UTI
      4) Bladder supplements
      5) Alt Chronic UTI treatment
      6) Diet & UTI
      Best of luck!

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