At this stage of a woman’s life, intimate infections can recur due to hormonal changes that alter the vaginal pH and reduce its ability to protect you from germs and bacteria. Here are the most common infections in menopause.
In menopause , vaginal infections may be more frequent than in fertile life. This can happen because the intimate defenses are lower due to hormonal and physiological changes when ovarian activity ceases . The reduced production of estrogen, in particular, is responsible for a series of external and internal changes in the genital system that also modify the vaginal pH.
In this post we will talk about:
- Causes of recurrent infections in menopause: changes the pH
- What is a vaginal infection?
- The most frequent symptoms of a vaginal infection in menopause
- What can be the most recurrent vaginal infections in menopause
- Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy is not an infection. That’s why you need to listen to your body
- If you found this article interesting, read also:
Causes of recurrent infections in menopause: changes the pH
During fertile life the intimate environment has a basically acidic pH (on average 4.5) which constitutes a natural protective barrier for bacteria and pathogens.
When the end of the fertile age approaches , due to the progressive decrease in estrogen, the pH tends to become alkaline (approaching 7) and this means that infections can take root more easily, finding a more hospitable environment . In this situation it may be more frequent to have recurrent or recurrent infections .
If you are interested in learning more about this topic you can read these articles:
- How the hormonal balance changes in menopause
- How the vaginal environment changes in menopause
What is a vaginal infection?
While the question seems trivial, it really isn’t. There are many intimate disorders that can be mistaken for infection, without being: an example is Vulvo Vaginal Atrophy , a very common pathological condition in menopause and postmenopause (affects about 50% of women) that presents some initial symptoms similar to those of an infection: itching, burning, hyper-sensitivity, blood loss.
A vaginal infection is a pathological reaction due to infectious causes.
The most frequent symptoms of a vaginal infection in menopause
The consequences of a vaginal infection are the same that you would most frequently describe as “symptoms”. That is, they are alterations to the normal state of things , which make you realize that something is wrong.
The main ones are the following: you can click on each symptomatology to deepen the reading in a specific article.
- inflammation and irritation of the external vaginal mucosa (which can be red, swollen, burn and itch)
- Internal itching
- intimate burning similar to a sensitivity to rubbing and contact (including with clothing)
- Abnormal leaks
- Burning or abnormal frequency of urination
These are non-specific symptoms but common to several types of infections. For this reason it is essential to always consult the gynecologist . Only the specialist, in fact, can trace with certainty the causes of a vaginal infection (often a vaginal swab is enough) and identify an adequate treatment .
The specific diagnosis of the doctor is essential to keep the most annoying symptoms under control early and recover serenity, to the benefit of intimate life , which can and must continue in menopause.
What can be the most recurrent vaginal infections in menopause
List of the most common intimate infections, frequent in menopause.
Bacterial vaginitis (or vaginosis)
The bacterial vaginosis is a generic definition for the most common vaginal infections caused by bacteria . It can be contracted by coming into contact with infectious microorganisms. Contagion can occur in all those situations in which the protective barriers of clothing are reduced to a minimum (in the locker room of a gym or on the beach), or there is an environmental condition (humidity, heat, for example if you stay with the costume wet for a long time) which can favor the proliferation of bacteria.
Bacterial vaginitis generally has symptoms such as white or grayish, frothy or foul smelling discharge , often fish-like .
Among bacterial infections, Gardnerella is one of the most frequent. It is an endogenous bacterium , which is normally present in the mucous membranes in certain concentrations. This bacterium reproduces abnormally when the pH changes and can lead to an infection . Often the infection is asymptomatic and of almost spontaneous resolution.
Candidiasis (or candida)
Candida is a very frequent infection, both during fertile life and in menopause when it can become particularly aggressive and therefore relapse . In general, candida is characterized by white losses similar to curdled milk.
Candida infection is caused by the Candida Albicans fungus , a yeast often already present in the vaginal flora, but which can cause infections in the presence of a series of alterations. Among these are the typical alterations of menopause :
- increased vaginal pH , which creates a fertile environment for fungal microorganisms
- vaginal dryness which makes the vaginal walls more exposed, and easier – for microorganisms – to take root on micro-lesions or abrasions, frequent in the absence of natural lubrication.
If you want to learn more about Candida symptoms, causes and treatments, this is our dedicated page .
It is a vaginal infection that is contracted mostly sexually or through contact with towels used in promiscuity or through unprotected intercourse with those affected. Trichomoniasis is caused by the protozoan trichomonas vaginalis and can remain dormant for years, and then occur concomitantly with an alteration of the vaginal pH (a typical condition of menopause). It occurs with whitish discharge and, common to other vaginal infections, itching, burning and pain during intercourse.
Every woman, during her life, has almost certainly encountered cystitis at least once: an infection that primarily affects the bladder extremely frequent. The cause of the infection is the bacterium Escherichia Coli , naturally present in the intestinal flora and in the faeces.
The anatomical conformation of the female genital tract can favor bacterial contamination, much more easily than it happens in men. For this reason, it is very important to learn how to manage intimate hygiene so as not to favor the exchange of bacteria either with other people (e.g. family members, when exchanging towels), or with yourself (in washing operations).