Yeast infection vs. UTI: know the difference
Yeast infections and UTIs can both cause discomfort, and they have some overlapping symptoms. However, these conditions are very different, and getting an accurate diagnosis is key for successful treatment. In this article, the team at Good MDs is explaining everything you need to know about yeast infections vs. UTIs.
Yeast infections are fungal infections of the vagina, and they’re caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. Candida is naturally present in the vaginal area, but Lactobacillus bacteria helps keep it in check. If you’ve ever heard doctors talk about “good bacteria,” this is what they are referring to. However, when there’s an imbalance of good bacteria, an overgrowth of Candida can occur, leading to a yeast infection. Men can also develop penile yeast infections.
It’s common for women to develop yeast infections after taking a course of antibiotics. This is because antibiotics tend to wipe out all of the bacteria, even the good bacteria that keeps Candida at bay. Yeast infections can also be caused by hormonal birth control, IUDs, pregnancy, tight clothing, and certain health conditions, like diabetes or HIV. You can also contract a yeast infection from a sexual partner.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections (also called cystitis) occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract. The most common types of bacteria that cause UTIs include: E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
Women are especially prone to developing UTIs, because they have shorter urethras. This allows bacteria near the vagina and anus to easily enter the urethra. It’s common for women to develop UTIs after having sex, or from improperly wiping after a bowel movement.
Yeast infection vs. UTI: spotting the symptoms
Common symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- Thick, milky discharge, which is usually odorless.
- A burning sensation, especially during intercourse. There may also be mild pain during urination.
- Red, inflamed skin on the genitals.
The primary symptoms of a UTI include:
- Pain or burning during urination.
- A strong and frequent urge to urinate.
- Kidney pain (in cases of severe UTIs).
Mild yeast infections may be treated with topical antifungal creams or suppositories, which can be purchased without a prescription. However, these creams can be messy and inconvenient.
Oral antifungal medication, such as Diflucan (fluconazole), can effectively treat yeast infections without the need for messy creams. In most cases, symptoms will start to resolve in about 4 hours after taking fluconazole.
To avoid yeast infections in the future, you should take probiotics to maintain your body’s supply of good bacteria. Avoiding tight-fitting clothing can also help.
Very mild urinary tract infections sometimes resolve on their own, but it’s important to speak with a doctor if you suspect you have a UTI. An untreated UTI can quickly worsen, leading to a kidney infection, which can be pretty serious (not to mention, very painful).
UTIs are treated by taking a course of antibiotics. The right antibiotic for you depends on the type of infection and your medical history. Your doctor can help you find the right medication to clear up your UTI for good.
Urinating immediately after sex can help prevent developing UTIs in the future. This flushes out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra. Women should also avoid wiping from back to front, as this can cause E. coli to enter the urinary tract.
Wondering if it’s a yeast infection vs. UTI? Get diagnosed online
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