The female urinary microbiota, urinary health and common urinary disorders

Ann Transl Med. 2017 Jan;5(2):34. doi: 10.21037/atm.2016.11.62.


This review provides the clinical context and updated information regarding the female urinary microbiota (FUM), a resident microbial community within the female bladder of many adult women. Microbial communities have variability and distinct characteristics in health, as well as during community disruption (dysbiosis). Information concerning characteristics of the FUM in health and disease is emerging. Sufficient data confirms that the microbes that compose the FUM are not contaminants and are cultivatable under appropriate conditions. Common clinical conditions, including urinary tract infection (UTI) and urgency urinary incontinence (UUI), a common form of urinary incontinence (UI), may be usefully reconsidered to determine the role of the FUM. Knowledge of FUM characteristics may help advance prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these conditions and other common lower urinary disorders in women. The FUM appears related to UTI and UUI in adult women. The specific role of the FUM remains to be clarified and requires significant additional work in describing FUM variability and resilience in health. Unique aspects of the FUM prompt re-evaluation of existing nomenclature to more appropriately define health and disease; the concept of dysbiosis may be useful for understanding the interaction of the FUM with other aspects of lower urinary tract physiology, including urothelial signaling. Clinicians, through their clinical laboratories, can adopt enhanced urine culture techniques that more fully describe the living microbes within the FUM. This additional information may provide clinicians and their patients an opportunity to impact clinical care without antibiotic use, if the FUM can be appropriately modified to improve treatment precision for UTI and UUI.

Keywords: Urinary microbiota; asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB); urinary incontinence (UI); urinary microbiome; urinary tract infection (UTI).

Publication types

  • Review