Throughout our bodies, we can find billions of microorganisms that live in a symbiotic relationship with different organ systems, including the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and the skin.
Contrary to popular belief, the urinary tract also houses a variety of microbes, which are thought to contribute to the metabolism of several substances.
To prevent microbial overgrowth, the body utilizes the jet pressure created by the urine stream to keep the numbers of microorganisms in check.
In this article, we will briefly define the urinary microbiome and discuss its connection to urinary incontinence.
What is the urinary microbiome?
According to a 2019 research paper, evidence of microbial presence in the urinary tract only surfaced 10 years ago with the help of RNA and DNA sequencing that unveiled the microbial nature of the collected genetic material.
Ever since its discovery, the urinary tract microbiome (i.e., urobiome) has been extensively researched to understand its role and how it contributes to disease processes, such as urinary tract infections, bladder disorders (e.g., urinary incontinence, overactive bladder), and other urogenital conditions.
In fact, researchers believe that the preoperative assessment of the urobiome can reduce the frequency and severity of perioperative urinary tract infections, as well as other post-surgical complications.
When it comes to specific species, Lactobacillus is the most common bacterium found in the female urinary microbiome followed by Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Aerococcus, Gardnerella, and Bifidobacterium.
As researchers kept exploring the urinary microbiome, it was clear that there is a solid connection between the diversity and growth of these milieu and urologic conditions, such as interstitial cystitis and overactive bladder.
The Relationship between the urinary microbiome and urinary incontinence
According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the urobiome of women with urinary incontinence had a different composition compared with healthy women.
As for the specifics, researchers noted that the number of bacteria, their types, and diversity were all different between participants.
Moreover, the urobiomes of women with stress urinary incontinence (physical activity-induced) were also different from patients with typical urgency urinary incontinence.
The findings of this study reflect on the pathophysiology of both conditions since stress urinary incontinence is mostly caused by anatomical abnormalities, whereas typical urinary incontinence is due to neuromuscular issues.
In summary, this study pushes us to ask whether the microbial diversity between individuals plays a role in determining the susceptibility to urologic conditions and if addressing the urobiome will improve the signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence and other maladies.
While taking probiotics (the primary way to enhance the quality of your microbiomes) has not been thoroughly studied in the field of urology, there is some evidence that supports the effectiveness of Lactobacillus supplementation in reducing the risk of urinary tract infections in women.
However, further research is warranted, especially in relation to other urologic ailments.
A Final message
The modifications of the urinary microbiome composition seem to be relevant to numerous urologic conditions, including –and not exclusive to– urinary incontinence.
Hopefully, this article managed to shed some light on the link between the urobiome and urinary continence, as well as the potential role of probiotics.