Microorganisms usually live on our skin, and in other places in the body such as the digestive tract. Previous thinking and medical teaching were that there was no such microbiome present in the urinary tract. Most people still believe that urine is sterile.
However, advanced detection methods involving enhanced urine cultures and DNA sequencing have falsified this notion. Microorganisms have been detected with newer technologies.
This has led to a paradigm shift on how we think about the urinary tract when it is both healthy and unwell and, like other parts of the human body, is widely colonized by microorganisms.
New Hot Topic of Investigation
The urinary microbiome has quickly caused a buzz in this area. Various scientific investigations have studied which microorganisms make up the urinary microbiome. And how the disease may occur due to these changes in the microbiome.
In the female urinary microbiome, Lactobacillus is the most common bacteria species, but other bacteria, including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Gardnerella, Aerococcus, and Bifidobacterium are also present.
Scientists have given evidence that the urinary microbiome changes with age. Moreover, previous studies have observed that women with several urologic conditions, including overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, contained an altered urinary microbiome.
Emerging links urinary microbiome and urinary incontinence
In a recent publication in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers observed that women with urinary incontinence (where urine is lost beyond one’s control ) had different urinary microbiomes than continent women.
There were not only different microbes present in terms of the types of bacteria but also with respect to the diversity of species. Also, it was found that women who had stress urinary incontinence (urine loss with physical activity) had several other urinary microbiomes compared to women who had urgency urinary incontinence (urine loss with a sudden desire to urinate).
These findings should not surprise anyone because it was already seen that stress and urgency urinary incontinence have different underlying causes. An anatomic problem (having to do with the structure of body parts) causes stress urinary incontinence whereas, a physiologic one (how body parts function) causes urgency urinary incontinence.
What Role Can Probiotics Play here?
Questions can be raised as to whether probiotics have a role in managing urinary incontinence. It could be, but many studies to date have not looked into probiotic use for the treatment of most urologic conditions. But some studies have suggested that Lactobacillus-based probiotics may be useful in preventing urinary tract infections.