Female urinary microbiota

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Purpose of review

The newly discovered female urinary microbiota has the potential to deepen our understanding of urinary tract health and disease, including common lower urinary tract conditions such as urinary incontinence and urinary tract infection. The spectrum of painful bladder disorders and other less common conditions also may benefit from additional research that includes consideration of the resident bacterial community of the female bladder. The present review provides a clinical context for the rapidly emerging research regarding the female urinary microbiota and its relationships with urinary tract conditions of interest.

Recent findings

Studies using culture-independent techniques confirm prior reports of bacteria that reside in the female urinary bladder. These resident communities, the female urinary microbiota, possess characteristics that differ between women affected by urgency urinary incontinence and matched, unaffected controls. Enhanced urine culture techniques permit cultivation of organisms, including uropathogens, missed by standard urine culture, but detected by culture-independent sequencing techniques.


New technology is available. Clinical laboratories can modify traditional standard urine culture methods to enhance detection of uropathogens. However, given the existence of the female urinary microbiota, the simple presence of bacteria in the lower urinary tract should not be taken as evidence of infection.

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