And when you’re praying you never have to pee again just so you can avoid the pain, figuring out exactly what’s going on is a huge step toward finding relief.
So let's start with the main difference between a vaginal yeast infection and a UTI is that a yeast infection is caused by the Candida fungus and affects the vagina, whereas a UTI is usually caused by bacteria and affects the urinary tract.
The symptoms of these conditions can overlap because parts of the urinary tract (where UTIs happen), like the urethra and the bladder, are so close to the vagina (where yeast infections happen).
The bottom line?
It’s not weird or uncommon to be confused about which condition you have, but it is crucial to know the difference so you can seek the best possible care (and stop the burning!).
Symptoms of UTI
Symptoms of Yeast Infection
pain and burning when urinating
pain when urinating or having sex
feeling the need to urinate more often than usual, even when you don’t actually have to relieve yourself
itchiness in the affected area (such as your vagina and vulva)
awakening from sleep to go to the bathroom
swelling in the affected area (for a vaginal yeast infection, that would be in the vagina and vulva)
discolored or cloudy urine that may be red or pink from blood
pain in the affected area
having unusual, generally odorless, vaginal discharge that is thick and milky looking (for vaginal yeast infections)
fever or chills, vomiting, or nausea, which may all be signs of a more serious infection
pain or feeling of pressure in your lower abdomen, back, and sides
pain in your pelvis, especially if you’re a woman
The duration of both infections depends on two factors: the severity of the infection and the choice of treatment.
In general, the symptoms of an uncomplicated UTI — one that has not spread to the kidneys — go away 1–2 days after starting care. However, a complicated UTI can take several days to a couple of weeks to treat.
A mild yeast infection is likely to clear up more quickly than a severe one. The duration of care for yeast infections varies from just a few days to up to 6 months, although the latter is rare.
WHAT IS A UTI?
A UTI is an infection of the urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the bladder, kidneys, ureter (the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder), and urethra (the tube that removes urine from the body).
Clearing waste via your pee is a primary function of the urinary tract. This would ideally also flush out any lurking pathogens and help keep infections at bay.
But sometimes potentially harmful bacteria are still able to reproduce in the urinary tract and cause infections. This often happens when the (delightful) E. coli bacteria travels from the anus and its surrounding skin to your urethra.
Women of all ages are most at risk of UTIs because the female urethra is much shorter than the male urethra, which allows bacteria near the vagina to enter the bladder more easily.
Other factors that increase the risk of a UTI include:
- Sexual intercourse.
- Certain contraceptives (eg, diaphragms or spermicides).
- Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement.
- The presence of kidney or bladder stones.
- Urinating without fully emptying the bladder.
- Having a urinary catheter.
- All of this might make it sound like UTIs should be classified as sexually transmitted infections, but they’re not. You don’t need to be sexually active to get a UTI!
UTIs in children are reasonably common, affecting up to 8% of girls and 2% of boys. Young children also are at higher risk of kidney damage from UTIs than adults. Some children are born with structural abnormalities in their bladder that cause vesicoureteral reflux, where urine reenters the bladder from one or both ureters, which also increases the likelihood of UTIs.
UTIs most often affect the bladder and can manifest as:
- Burning when urinating (the medical term for this is dysuria).
- The feeling that you need to pee frequently, but when you go to the toilet very little urine comes out.
- Cloudy urine or/and urine that smells like ammonia.
- Pain in the pelvic area just above the pubic bone or pressure.
- Discharge that tends to be yellowish-green and thick or clear and thin.
HOW TO CARE FOR UTI?
Urinary tract infections can be painful, but you can take steps to ease your discomfort. Care for Urinary Tract infections usually involves declawing the grip of the harmful E.Coli bacteria from the bladder and effectively flushing any lurking pathogens out!
And you can take steps to ease your UTI discomfort:
- Drink plenty of water with D-Crush. Water helps to dilute your urine and D-Crush will flush out bacteria.
- Avoid drinks that may irritate your bladder. Avoid coffee, alcohol, and soft drinks containing citrus juices or caffeine until your infection has cleared. They can irritate your bladder and tend to aggravate your frequent or urgent need to urinate.
- Use a heating pad. Apply a warm, but not hot, heating pad to your abdomen to minimize bladder pressure or discomfort.
WHAT IS A YEAST INFECTION?
Vaginal yeast infections are also known as candidiasis or vaginal thrush and are caused by an overgrowth of yeast within the vagina, and are very common, affecting around 75% of women at least once in their lifetime.
Pregnancy, antibiotic use, or a weakened immune system increase a woman’s risk of developing a yeast infection.
Yeast infections are also more common in women:
- With uncontrolled diabetes.
- Using high-dose estrogen birth control.
- Using douches.
- Wearing tight underwear and synthetic clothes that don’t breathe.
Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection range from mild to moderate and include:
- Intense itching or irritation around the genital area.
- A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
- A thick, white, odor-free, discharge (may resemble cottage cheese).
Although vaginal yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted infection, sexual intercourse can trigger or spread them. Women who aren’t sexually active can also get them. Some women are prone to yeast infections and get them relatively regularly.
What can contribute to this overgrowth of Candida in the vagina specifically?
Well, Candida exists alongside bacteria called Lactobacillus that help to maintain the crucial balance of microorganisms in the vagina. Changes in estrogen (like from pregnancy, birth control, and hormone therapies) can throw off this balance, as can taking medications like antibiotics. Wearing damp clothes next to your vagina for too long can also increase your risk, as it creates a wet, Candida-friendly environment. This is why changing out of your swimsuit, workout leggings, and the like ASAP is always a good idea.
HOW TO CARE FOR YEAST INFECTION?
Yeast infections can be painful, but you can take steps to ease your discomfort.
And you can take steps to ease your Yeast Infection discomfort:
- Eating natural, unsweetened yogurt that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus may help prevent yeast infections. T
- Stay hydrated and urinate when the need arises, do NOT hold it in.
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement, and use HALO to keep the area decontaminated.
- Urinate before and after sex.
- Avoid using douches (it's called a douche for a reason).
- Avoid wearing restrictive, synthetic clothing, or change out of such clothing as soon as possible after exercising or swimming.
While there are some clear differences between UTIs and yeast infections, there’s just enough murky overlap that it can be easy to mix up the two. If you’re at all unsure of what you’re dealing with, schedule some time to chat with a medical provider so you can get exactly what you need to feel better.