women aging body changes

Photo: AndreyPopov/istockphoto

5 of 5

NEXT

SLIDESHOW

UTIs Happen More Frequently

What you know: A lot changes below the waist (vaginal dryness being chief among them) thanks to, you guessed it, lower estrogen levels.

What might surprise you: Urinary tract infections become more common in women after menopause because of those estrogen changes, says Lauren Streicher, MD, the director of the Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause and an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. (Estrogen appears to play a protective role against the bacteria that lead to UTIs.) "We see this issue in 60 to 70 percent of women after menopause."

What you can do about it: Streicher recommends local estrogen like a topical cream, which delivers lower doses than traditional hormone therapy. At low doses, little of the hormone gets absorbed into the bloodstream, so it's unlikely to affect the rest of your body. (If you're still concerned, ask your doctor about the most minimal amount that would still help with your problem.) Local estrogen can help restore normal function to urethra tissue, decreasing the risk of UTIs.