Women’s urine is NOT sterile: Contrary to conventional belief, scientists have now discovered the bladder is filled with bacteria – both toxic and beneficial
- Women’s urine is not sterile and can contain deadly bacteria says new research
- Researchers found that bacteria is ‘shared’ between the bladder and vagina
- This means a huge number of bacteria, toxic and beneficial, move between them
- This is contrary to the conventional belief that the bladder is a sterile place
- The research could lead to better diagnostic tests for urinary tract infections
Contrary to conventional belief, scientists have now discovered women’s urine is not sterile.
According to new research, experts have discovered bacteria is shared between the bladder and vagina.
A Chicago team of scientists found that a huge number of different types, both toxic and beneficial, are transported between the two areas, including the deadly pathogen E.coli.
The new evidence counters the long-held conventional belief that the bladder and urine are free of bacteria.
‘Now that we know the bladder is not sterile, we have to reevaluate everything we thought we knew about the bladder, and that is what we are doing,’ study leader, doctor Alan Wolfe said.
The research team hope the study will lead to better diagnostic tests for urinary tract infections and other urinary tract disorders.
Women’s urine is not sterile, according to recent research, and instead bacteria is ‘shared’ between the bladder and vagina, including the deadly pathogen E. coli.
What the study authors did
The researchers from Loyola University in Chicago sequenced the genes of 149 bacterial strains from 77 women.
They found that the bacterial microbiota – the bacterial community inside the body – were similar in the bladder and vagina, but not in the gastrointestinal tract.
The scientists summarise that bacteria must be able to travel between the two organs via urine.
Previously, it was believed urine was sterile in healthy women, and that bacteria could be found in the bladder only during infections.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
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‘We need to reevaluate everything’
‘Now that we know the bladder is not sterile, we have to reevaluate everything we thought we knew about the bladder, and that is what we are doing,’ Dr. Wolfe said.
The researchers found beneficial bacteria shared between the two organs, like Lactobacillus iners and L. crispatus, as well as pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli, which can cause serious food poisoning and infections, like cystitis.
They say the result will impact diagnostic tests and treatments for urinary tract infections and other urinary tract disorders need to be reassessed in light of this new information.
The researchers write that this: ‘should alter the way we view the bacteria of the female pelvic floor both by enabling further research and by providing new diagnostic and treatment options for urinary tract infections, urgency urinary incontinence and other associated urinary tract disorders.’
A Chicago research team found that a huge number of bacteria, both both toxic and beneficial move between the vagina and bladder.
Vaginal cleansers raise the risk of infection
This comes after research revealed in April, which shows that attempts to flush out these bacteria could actually lead to more infections, and not fewer.
Women who use intimate-health products are more at risk of bacterial, fungal and urinary tract infections (UTIs), the research suggests.
Vaginal sanitising gels raise women’s risk of developing a genital bacterial infection by almost 20 times and a yeast infection, like thrush, by eight times, a study found.
Intimate washes make women 3.5 times more likely to catch a bacterial infection and 2.5 times more at risk of a yeast infestation, the research adds.
Vaginal wipes double the risk of a UTI, while lubricants and moisturising creams increase women’s susceptibility to thrush by 2.5 times, the study found.
Lead author Kieran O’Doherty, from University of Guelph, said: ‘These products may be preventing the growth of the healthy bacteria required to fight off infection.’
Imbalances to ‘good’ bacteria in the vagina may also lead to reduced fertility, cervical cancer and a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to the researchers.
So far this year, feminine-hygiene product sales have reached more than $2,720 million in the US alone.
WHAT IS E. COLI?
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of bacteria common in human and animal intestines, and forms part of the normal gut flora (the bacteria that exist in the bowel).
There are a number of different types of E. coli and while the majority are harmless some can cause serious food poisoning and serious infection.
For example, E. coli bacteria are a common cause of cystitis, an infection of the bladder that occurs when there is a spread of the bacteria from the gut to the urinary system.
Some E. coli strains produce toxins (Shiga toxins) that can cause severe illness. One common strain called E. coli 0157 produces such toxins and is usually responsible for the outbreaks that are covered by the news.
Women are more susceptible to urinary tract infection by E. coli because of the close proximity of the urethra and the anus.
A common mode of infection is by eating food that is contaminated with the bacteria.
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