Normally the urine and urinary tract are free of microorganisms above the entrance to the bladder, but the lower urethra hosts a number of genera of bacteria. During the child-bearing years, a woman's hormones are important in the vagina's resistance to infection, because estrogen promotes growth of lactobacilli and acidic conditions.
■ Which parts of the genitourinary system are normally sterile?
■ Name two species of pathogenic bacteria to which the vagina is especially susceptible during childhood.
■ What changes might occur in the vagina if lactobacilli were eliminated.
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