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Can Urogenital Aging Be Slowed in Postmenopausal Women?

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Research published last year in Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics describes the benefits of "triple therapy" for symptoms of urogenital aging in postmenopausal women. The triple therapy included pelvic floor rehabilitation, intravaginal estradiol, and Lactobacillus acidophili on symptoms of urogenital atrophy, urinary tract infections (UTI's), and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in postmenopausal women. 136 women with postmenopausal urogenital aging symptoms were divided into two groups of 68 women. Group 1 received intravaginal treatment of combined estriol (30 mcg) and Lactobacillus acidophili (50 mg) and pelvic floor rehabilitation. Group 2 received intravaginal estriol (1 mg) plus pelvic floor rehabilitation. The intravaginal treatment was applied once/day for 2 weeks and then twice/week up to 6 months.

Symptoms of urogenital aging listed by the authors include lower urinary tract issues (urinary frequency and urgency, nocturne, dysuria, recurrent UTI's, and urinary incontinence (UI)), and vaginal or vulval symptoms (vaginal dryness, itching, burning, and dyspareunia.) The connection between the microbiota Lactobacillus acidophili and vaginal health is described in the article involves the proliferation of Lactobacillus acidophili that is stimulated by estrogen. The microbiota then is reproduced in the vaginal epithelium, reduces pH, and prevents colonization of pathogens that can lead to UTI's. The pelvic floor muscle training was completed "…as explained by Castro et al…" in reference to the 2008 study assessing the efficacy of pelvic floor muscle training, vaginal cones, electrical stimulation, and no active treatment. The pelvic floor training in the Castro study included group sessions of pelvic floor muscle contractions as follows: 10 repetitions of 5 seconds contract, 5 seconds relax; 20 repetitions of 2 seconds contract, 2 seconds relax; 20 repetitions of 1 second contract, 1 second relax; 5 repetitions of 10 seconds contract, 10 seconds relax; and 5 simulated cough with strong contraction with 1 minute rest in between.

In the study, the authors assessed outcomes of urogenital symptoms in women aged 55-70 including urine cultures, colposcopic and urethral cytologic findings, urethral pressure profiles, and urethro-cystometry before and 6 months after intervention. Results included that both groups demonstrated significant improvements in symptoms and signs of urogenital atrophy , and 76% of the triple therapy group (Group 1) reported improvement in incontinence versus 41% of Group 2. Subjects in the triple therapy group also were observed to have significant improvements in colposcopic findings, urethral pressure and closure, and in abdominal pressure transmission ratio to the proximal urethra. The study concludes that combination therapy of estriol, Lactobacillus acidophili, and pelvic floor rehabilitation should be considered first-line treatment for postmenopausal symptoms of urogenital aging. To learn more about menopausal evaluation and interventions, check out faculty member Michelle Lyons' new course on Menopause: A Rehabilitation Approach. The next opportunity to take this course is in February in Orlando.

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