Is perimenopause to blame for my kidney infection?

Expert: Wendy Klein, MD co-author of The Menopause Makeover

Dear Dr. Klein,

As you go through the change of life, is it normal for you to have an increase in bladder/urinary tract/kidney problems?

I had my first kidney infection in November. It was very painful and forced me to go to the ER. There was no warning and the symptoms hit me instantaneously. The doctors said it was a kidney infection and comes from a bladder infection left untreated. BUT I HAD NO SYMPTOMS.  They also said it comes from not drinking enough water or not going to the bathroom enough.  I work in an office, sitting all day for 8 hours.

I’m really baffled as to why I’m having urinary problems now, when nothing has changed in my lifestyle except the onset of perimenopause.

Answer: Many women have recurrent bladder infections, and, as you have already learned, untreated bladder infections can track up the urinary tract and lead to kidney infections. Not good. What you can do to prevent these –

1) Stay hydrated. Keep water with you at work & drink through the day.
2) Do not delay when you feel the need to urinate! Empty your bladder regularly and do not hold your urine.
3) If possible, empty your bladder after sex. Although difficult to prove, there is anecdotal evidence that urinating after sex may help to “wash away” bacteria.
4) Have a healthcare provider dipstick your urine at the first sign of problems to rule out an infection. If your bladder is infected, white blood cells will show up on your dipstick test, indicating a need for antibiotics. If there are no white blood cells, and you are having pain with urination, this may be a sign of low estrogen, which is easily treated with vaginal estrogen tablets or cream.

Also, if there is a history of diabetes in your family, have your blood sugar checked. New onset of recurring bladder or kidney infections can be a sign of diabetes.

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