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The drop in estrogen levels associated with symptoms of the menopausal transition can affect the urinary system. Like the vaginal wall, the urethra (the tube that drains the bladder and is used for urination) undergoes changes as estrogen levels drop. These changes in the urethra may lead to different kinds of urinary symptoms, including an increased susceptibility to urinary tract infections.
Some of the urinary symptoms that can be associated with menopause include:
- the urge to urinate often, or when the bladder is not full (termed urinary urgency),
- discomfort or burning with urination,
- leakage of urine with coughing, laughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects (termed stress incontinence), and
- the need to urinate more frequently, including at night.
If you are experiencing urinary symptoms, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding overfilling of the bladder, and emptying the bladder before and after sexual intercourse can also help prevent urinary tract infections from occurring.
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care
Patient information: Menopause (Beyond the Basics).