Why are people confused about UTIs and Yeast Infections?
...Because it’s confusing! These things don’t get talked about enough given how annoying they are. It doesn’t help that urinary tract infections and yeast infections are super common and the symptoms seem similar.
You may hear your friend talk about pain, or itchiness, or the infamous “burning” sensation and lump it all together as “something real bad” going on "down there".
On top of the initial confusion, they are actually related in a terrible cycle of awfulness: the only way to get rid of a UTI is antibiotics, but antibiotics can also kill the good bacteria and lead to a yeast infection, rinse, repeat (1).
The crafty UTI is slightly more targeted in its evil powers— think lightning bolts from hell. A UTI is specifically an infection of the urinary tract (bladder, ureters, kidneys etc.) caused by bacteria. Yeast infections are usually caused by a fungus (Candida albicans) and can infect a lot more areas, including the mouth and bloodstream (2).
There’s no discharge with UTIs, but there is often the feeling that you need to pee (even though not much pee comes out) and then a burning sensation when you do. Ugh.
Vaginal yeast infections (Vaginitis - *also a great supervillain name) is typically accompanied by a white discharge, the dreaded itchiness, and sometimes a smell similar to baking bread (just when you thought bread was evil enough) (3).
We know our bodies better than anyone else. And we’re good at sensing when things are getting better or getting worse. If it’s a UTI and it’s getting worse, you need to treat it to avoid more serious and even life-threatening conditions. At the moment, that means antibiotics.
Yeast infections, however, are really annoying, but is typically not serious and can be treated with simple medications.
To treat a UTI you generally need antibiotics, so get to your doctor when you can. I like my doctor, but I hate having to go and ask her for more antibiotics, which is why I created Mingo - to prevent UTIs from happening in the first place.
To treat a yeast infection you need anti-fungal or anti-microbial medication. Something like Monistat can often get rid of an infection within 2-3 days using a pre-bed insertion routine and creams or wipes to soothe the symptoms (yay!) (4).
This is thereallyannoying part. UTIs are currently treated with antibiotics, which attach the bad bacteria. But antibiotics are pretty destructive of all the bacteriathroughout the body, which can upset the pH balance in the vagina, and lead to a proliferation of yeast. (3)
For me it comes down to this. Antibiotics are awesome when they’re used to attack something awful. UTIs are awful, no doubt, and I will take antibiotics if I need them, but I'm protective of the good stuff, bacteria included, so now I really focus on preventing UTIs to avoid this cycle from happening at all!
(1)"UTI vs. Yeast Infections: Can UTI Cause A Yeast Infection?" UrineInfection.net. N.p., 05 July 2016.
(2)Community Contributor Advocate Condell Medical Center. "Knowing the difference between a UTI and a yeast infection." Lake County News-Sun. N.p., 24 Jan. 2017.
(3) "Urinary-yeast infection cycle?" Urinary-yeast infection cycle? Columbia University, n.d.
(4) Gaul, Shaina. "UTIs and Yeast Infections: How to Know the Difference - Page 2." EmpowHER. N.p., 30 Aug. 2015.