Most people know that microorganisms live on our skin, and in other places in the body such as the digestive tract. However, traditional thinking and medical teaching was that there was no such microbiome in the urinary tract. Many people may still believe that urine is sterile.
Advanced detection methods such as enhanced urine cultures and DNA sequencing have shown that this is not true. These newer technologies have enabled identification of low levels of microorganisms that were not previously detected using conventional methods. This has revolutionized how we think about the urinary tract when it is both healthy and unwell, and has led to a paradigm shift as we recognize that the bladder, like other parts of the human body, is widely colonized by microorganisms.
Gaining insight into the urinary microbiome
The urinary microbiome has quickly become a hot topic of investigation, leading to a burgeoning collection of scientific literature in this area. Multiple scientific investigations have studied which microorganisms make up the urinary microbiome, and how changes in the microbiome may result in or be a result of disease.
Lactobacillus is the most common species of bacteria in the female urinary microbiome, but other bacteria including Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Aerococcus, Gardnerella, and Bifidobacterium are also present. There’s evidence that the urinary microbiome changes with age. In addition, previous studies have shown that women with various urologic conditions, including overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, have an altered urinary microbiome.
Study links urinary microbiome and urinary incontinence
In a recent publication in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers found that women with urinary incontinence — urine loss beyond one’s control — had different urinary microbiomes compared with continent women. The microbiomes differed not only in terms of the types of bacteria present, but also in