Rheumatoid Arthritis & HRT: Urinary Tract Infections In Women

Patient Expert

I am not a doctor or health care professional, but I want to share my personal experience with UTI's in hopes of helping others. This is a "for women" post, as it definitely does not apply to the male segment of our population.

The year before I was diagnosed with RA, I spent a lot of time an my PCP's office. I was battling sinus infections, asthma and recurrent UTI's. The most concerning by far was the repeated urinary tract infections, because the bacteria had become resistant to Cipro.

Approximately every six weeks, I would get a rather frantic call from my PCP's nurse telling me I needed to come to her office immediately for a shot of antibiotic. I had to have a shot every day for three days. The shot was some sort of strong antibiotic that cannot be taken in pill form and can be toxic.

Finally, my PCP became weary of battling my UTI's and sent me to a Urologist. The urologist did a cystoscopic exam of my bladder. You haven't fully lived until you have had one of those. Suffice it to say, it was not a pleasant experience.

Good news was my bladder looked healthy. The urologist also ordered a CAT scan to make sure there were no masses in my kidneys. I received good news in that department, too. Everything appeared normal.

The urologist, a women who is very kind and forthcoming, decided I should be on low dose antibiotics for three months in between office visits. I did take the low dose Sulfa drug for three months with success, as I did not have another UTI on my next visit to her.

During my follow-up appointment, my doctor gave me two options. I could stay on the low dose sulfa drug, or try HRT ( hormone replacement therapy). I decided on the HRT which comes in the form of a cream that is used one to three times a week.

My urologist explained that post menopausal women often need this treatment because their estrogen levels can become so low that the ureter does not close. This leaves the woman's body open to all kinds of infections.

I now take MTX once a week, so I am not able to take sulfa drugs of any kind. I am glad that I chose the HRT option for treating my recurrent UTIs. I have found that I am not nearly as moody since I have gotten my hormones back in balance. That is an added plus Best of all, I have not had any more UTI's. I saw my urologist in June, and I don't have to see her again for another six months.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding HRT. I am aware of the risks involved, but I have chosen HRT because I don't have much of a choice.

Untreated or antibiotic-resistant UTI's can cause serious problems. Since I am now on MTX which lowers my immune response, this is the best plan of action for me at this time.

If I had known HRT could have prevented all that I endured last year because of UTI's, I would have pursued it earlier. HRT is, of course, an individual decision. What is good for one person, may not be appropriate for another.

I am sharing my experience with you so that you know the options available for those of us who have problems with recurrent UTI's. HRT works for me, and it has improved my quality of life in many areas.