UTI or Yeast Infection?
Almost every woman will experience a yeast infection and/or urinary tract infection in her lifetime. While both have some similarities, they also differ in important ways that impact treatment options and long-term outcomes. Here is what you should know about yeast infections and UTIs.
What Is a UTI?
Usually caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli, a UTI is an infection of any part of the urinary system, including the urethra, bladder, ureters or kidneys. Most commonly, UTIs occur in the bladder and the urethra. While they don't always cause signs, UTIs can promote the following symptoms:
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Frequently passing small amounts of urine
- Burning during urination
- Cloudy and/or foul smelling urine
- Red, bright pink or cola-colored urine
- Pelvic pain in women
What Is a Yeast Infection?
Most commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans, yeast infections occur when fungal cells begin overpopulating the vagina. Symptoms usually include:
- Irritation and itching in the vagina and/or vulva
- Burning during intercourse and/or urination
- Swelling and redness of the vulva
- Vaginal rash and/or soreness
- Watery vaginal discharge
- Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese
When to See a Doctor
UTIs and yeast infections are both common in women; however, one can be far more dangerous than the other. If left untreated, UTIs can spread to the kidneys and cause serious long-term health issues. For this reason, it's a good idea to see your doctor if you show any symptoms of a UTI. On the other hand, if your symptoms appear to indicate a yeast infection, you can use over-the-counter medications to treat the issue.
For UTIs, doctors often recommend antibiotic medications to kill the infecting bacteria. In some cases, UTIs and yeast infections can occur simultaneously. Antibiotics medications can also increase the risk of yeast infections by decreasing lactobacillus bacteria in your vagina and altering its pH.