Nearly 60% of women will suffer from UTI (urinary tract infections) at least once in their lives, whereas over 2/3rd of all women will encounter a yeast infection. On the other hand, 12% of men will suffer from a UTI throughout their lives and even fewer will encounter a yeast infection. Though both UTIs and yeast infections are distinct, the areas affected are the same and tend to confuse women suffering from these illnesses.
While UTI is a bacterial infection, the latter is a fungal disease caused by one of the most common pathogenic fungi found in humans. So what is the difference between a UTI and yeast infection? That’s what we explore in this blog post.
While factors such as immunity and debilitating diseases play an important role in both infections, other factors, such as anatomy, also predispose women to be at greater risk for both infections. Combating both diseases is integral to female reproductive and urological health, which are important aspects in determining overall health and well-being. Read on as we discuss the differences between a yeast infection vs. UTI.
What is the Difference between a UTI and Yeast Infection?
- Urinary tract infections are caused by bacterial species such as Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterococcus faecalis, and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.
- The infection affects the urinary tract and is most commonly restricted to its lower portion.
- An important difference between UTI and yeast infection is the region affected. UTIs involve the urinary tract, while yeast infections are restricted to the vaginal and vulvar regions.
- UTI can cause serious disease and infection of the kidneys if it spreads to the upper parts of the urinary tract.
- An important difference between a UTI vs. yeast infection is that UTIs are treated using antibiotics that require a doctor’s prescription. Most UTIs respond well to antibiotic treatment and resolve within 4-5 days. However, complex UTIs can take up to a week or 10 days to respond well to antibiotic treatment.
- On the other hand, yeast infections are caused by fungi from the genus Candida. While the fungus is commonly present as a commensal organism on the human body, it can become an opportunistic pathogen when the conditions are favorable for its growth.
- Candida is also a part of the vaginal microbiome, and an imbalance can lead to a yeast infection.
- Many women often wonder, ‘Can a yeast infection cause UTIs?’ - while yeast infections themselves cannot cause a UTI, the antibiotics used to treat UTIs can lead to yeast infections as they cause imbalances in the vaginal microbiome.
- While both conditions are distinct illnesses, it is possible to have a UTI and yeast infection together.
- If you’re curious about what STD feels like a yeast infection, several sexually transmitted diseases also resemble yeast infections due to vaginal discharge. Yeast infections are associated with a thick, white, cottage cheese-like odorless discharge. This can sometimes be confused with discharge from diseases like vaginosis, vaginal trichomoniasis, and even chlamydia. However, it is important to note that discharges associated with STDs are almost always foul-smelling, as opposed to the odorless discharge of yeast infections.
- While yeast infections are not considered to be sexually transmitted diseases, it is possible, although not as likely, to contract a yeast infection from having sex with an infected individual. This can result from coming in contact with bodily fluids or through sexual intercourse (be it genital, oral, or anal).
- Yeast infections can be self-resolving but respond well to antifungal treatments that are also available as over-the-counter options.
- Though yeast infections resolve with minimal treatment, rare cases that involve women with compromised immune systems can sometimes progress to a systemic fungal infection called systemic candidiasis. This has a high mortality rate.
- Though distinct, maintaining good hygiene habits and following the preventive measures mentioned in the subsequent portions of this blog post will help you avoid both infections.
Yeast Infection Symptoms vs. UTI Symptoms: An Overview
To understand yeast infections and UTIs better, it’s important to consider the symptoms of yeast infection vs. UTI symptoms to know the differences to help you identify the condition. Here are the common symptoms of both illnesses:
Symptoms of UTI
- Pain and burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urges to urinate even when there’s no need
- Foul-smelling and turbid urine
- Pink or blood-colored urine
- Vomiting & nausea
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen
- Pelvic, lower back, and lower abdomen pain
- Pain on the sides of the abdomen
- Getting up at night to visit the bathroom frequently
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
- Itchiness or burning sensation in and around the vulva and other parts of the vagina
- Redness and swelling of the vulva and affected parts of the vaginal tract
- Thick, white, cottage-cheese-like or curd-like discharge that is often odorless
- Pain or irritation in the affected area
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
The Difference Between UTI and Yeast Infection: The Causes of Illness & Risk Factors
To further elaborate upon the question ‘What is the difference between UTI and yeast infection?’, let’s take a look at the causes and risks of both infections:
- UTI is the infection of the urinary tract by bacterial organisms.
- Urinary tract infections can affect the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.
- Urinary tract infections restricted to lower portions of the tract are less likely to cause complications.
- Infections that are higher up in the urinary tract are causes of concern as they can lead to serious systemic infections.
- Sexual intercourse can predispose some women to contract UTIs.
- The proximity of the female urethra to the anus causes increased chances of contact with stool that contains bacteria. This is an important reason why women are at greater risk of contracting UTIs as opposed to men.
- Not urinating frequently or regularly putting off urination can also cause urinary tract and bladder infections.
- The use of spermicidal lubricants, diaphragms, and scented tampons increases the risk of UTIs.
- Contracting sexually transmitted illnesses also heighten the risk of UTIs as this can affect the overall immunity of the body.
- Debilitating diseases such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders requiring immunosuppressants are also known to predispose people to UTIs.
- Like UTIs, yeast infections too are more common in women than in men.
- Unlike UTIs, yeast infections are caused by fungi that infect the vaginal tract and the superficial parts such as the vulva.
- Yeast infections are often caused by changes to the balance of the vaginal microbiome.
- Taking strong antibiotics that kill the beneficial bacteria can lead to yeast infections.
- The balance of the microbiome is also thrown off by hormonal changes before menstruation and during pregnancy. Similar changes occur during stress and psychological disturbances as well.
- An increased predisposition to yeast infections is also noted when people are on high doses of steroid medications, have a suppressed immune system, or have uncontrolled diabetes.
- Since Candida is an opportunistic fungus, it can also cause yeast infections when the affected individual has diseases such as AIDS.
- Moist environments around the vagina also promote increased chances of yeast infections.
UTI vs. Yeast Infections: Diagnosis & Testing
- Both UTIs and yeast infections are diagnosed using different means and methods.
- While yeast infections are often easy to confirm using a straightforward pelvic examination and by taking a detailed history of illness, UTIs require more specific tests.
- However, yeast infections can also be tested by collecting a swab sample from the vagina that can then be observed under the microscope to detect the candida fungus or cultured to confirm the same.
- The doctor will also ask you about the nature of the discharge and other related symptoms to confirm their diagnosis.
- As for UTIs, there exists specific UTI testing to confirm the diagnosis.
- This often involves collecting a urine sample and examining it to detect bacteria in it.
- The lab might also use a culture test to ascertain the type of bacteria causing the UTI.
- Your doctor will also ask questions about your medical history and the color and odor of the urine.
- Correlating these findings with the test results will provide an accurate diagnosis.
- Doctors might also suggest both tests if you’re exhibiting symptoms that appear like both conditions.
- Now that you know the difference between UTIs and yeast infections, it’s important to understand what treatment to expect for both conditions.
- UTIs are often treated by either broad or narrow-spectrum antibiotics depending on the extent of the infection.
- It’s important to complete the entire course of antibiotics to ensure the UTI doesn’t return.
- Hydrating well, having unsweetened fruit juices, maintaining good hygiene, and regularly visiting the bathroom to relieve yourself is important in supplementing the antibiotic therapy and recovering sooner.
- As for yeast infections, these can often be treated using topical antifungal ointments that can be purchased over the counter without any prescription. However, it is still wise to consult your doctor before medicating.
- Depending on the extent of your yeast infection, your doctor might suggest oral antifungal therapy and might even recommend a suppository.
- Taking the complete course of antifungals is just as important, and prevents recurrent yeast infections.
Yeast Infection & UTI: Prevention
Here are several ways to prevent a urinary tract infection and a yeast infection:
- Practice good hygiene
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear
- Avoid vaginal sprays and deodorants
- Avoid aggressive cleansing of the vaginal area
- Be sure to urinate regularly and drink a lot of fluids
- Wash your genitals after urinating
- Practice sexual hygiene
- Urinate before and after sex
- Avoid sharing personal care products
- Keep blood sugar levels in check
- Avoid excessively long hot water baths and avoid spending too much time in hot water tubs
Both UTIs and yeast infections can sometimes be hard to discern from the other. Getting yourself checked by your physician is integral to maintaining robust reproductive and general health in these cases. Don’t forget to reach out to your doctor for assistance and medical care.