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UTIs and Yeast Infections: How to Know the Difference

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uti yeast infection difference Via Unsplash

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections are two of the most common problems to befall a woman’s genital area. If you are a healthy young woman, chances are you will experience one (if not both) of these infections in your lifetime.

The symptoms of these conditions can be very scary (itching, burning, pain), which is why it’s important to learn about them BEFORE they happen to you. That way, you can differentiate between what requires a visit to the doctor and what can be treated at home with over-the-counter (OTC) meds. It can also help you sidestep the panicked two hours during which you wonder if you have a sexually transmitted disease.

It’s pretty hard to confuse the symptoms of a UTI. The first, and most noticeable, sign will be a frequent urge to urinate. But then when you go to the bathroom, surprise! Nothing comes out. This feeling is extremely uncomfortable, and similar to what I imagine men must experience when they have an erection for too long.

A UTI begins in the urethra and then works its way up your urinary tract. This means that the next symptom you have will be a dull pain in the lower right portion of your back. This is where the urinary tract runs up to meet your kidneys. At this point, it is very important to get to a doctor quickly, as you may develop a kidney infection if left untreated. You will be prescribed antibiotics to take for about 10 days or so. Keep in mind that antibiotics do lower the efficacy of hormonal contraceptives, so you may want to use a back-up method of birth control until your next period.

Yeast infections are also common in women but are quite a different matter. They are characterized by an itchy, painful-to-the-touch feeling around your vagina and labia. As the condition worsens, you will start to produce thick, foul-smelling vaginal discharge. The consistency of this substance is often compared to cottage cheese.

Luckily, yeast infections are very easy to treat. You simply need to head to your nearest drug store and pick up a box of Monistat or its generic equivalent. These kits come complete with an ovule of treatment solution that is placed in the vagina before bed, as well as creams and wipes to sooth the itching. Your condition should improve within two to three days.

NOTE: This article is not intended to replace a doctor’s opinion or diagnosis. Please see your primary care physician if you are unsure of what treatment plan to follow, or if OTC meds do not help your condition improve within a day or two.


Shaina Gaul is a feminist and freelance writer living in Iowa. View more of her writing at http://www.couchSpud.net.

Add a Comment15 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

So after reading this , late last night I wake up to the feeling that I have to go to the bathroom & I usually put it off since it was 2am almost 3 but I couldn’t it was hurting but when I pee it doesn’t burn it hurts when I’m done peeing. I do feel that I do wanna continue to go to the bathroom but barley anything ? Is there any home remedies or over the counter stuff ? Could this be a UTI ? Because it only hurts when I finish peeing & I don’t feel pain around that area just the urge to go to the bathroom a lot!?

November 17, 2017 - 5:53pm
EmpowHER Guest

So after reading this article I was still left with a question. If you believe you have that yeast infection but symptoms worsen and it it longer than 3-4 days what do you do besides see a docotor??

May 24, 2017 - 12:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am a post menopausal woman and have been using the Estring for estrogen replacement for about a year. During that year, I've had what I thought were bladder infections followed by yeast infections at least five times. I usually get something everytime I have sex. I've been treated with Bactrim, which didn't seem to do anything, then with Ciprofolaxin, which seemed to take care of the problem in two cases. In four of these cases, the urine cultures did not reveal any bacteria. My pharmacist said I could have a yeast infection in the urethra, which, he said, could be cured with cranberry juice. I've yet to test this theory. If anyone has any experience with the Estring and various infections, I'd like to hear about them.

October 10, 2016 - 8:42am
EmpowHER Guest

I have used the Lady Soma Candida Cleanse the last two times I have suffered with Candida. I have found this to be excellent at keeping it 'under control' even when i've had to take antibiotics, (unavoidable due to a dental infection). Also I didn't suffer any dramatic unpleasant side effects which can very often be the case. Its easy as you only need to take 2 a day...it's realistically priced and in my experience it is very effective.

September 12, 2016 - 5:49pm
EmpowHER Guest

I went through Chemo and that makes uti and yeast infections very common even after all that is done. I started taking a probiotic after dealing with 10+ continuous infections every time i was off the medicine to get rid of them. I started taking a probiotic, Haven't had one since!

January 6, 2016 - 3:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'll advise you to NEVER let a UTI turn into kidney in infection. It can cause serious harm yo your buddy, and lots of pain. If you suspect that you have one. TELL your doctor. I have found that even though you give them all the symptoms, ther just don't always suspect a UTI.

July 14, 2015 - 7:16am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for your article. You make it very clear to consult a doctor if the symptoms occur for the first time. If I had Internet access 30 years ago and read your article, I wouldn't have panicked so much with the symptoms I was experiencing.

Today. Smart young women do research on the net and they need to be better informed instead of panicking,

March 10, 2015 - 9:47pm
EmpowHER Guest

Okay so what if I have all the signs of the yeast infection, mostly the smell/discharge, but also can't pee or when I try it hurts?

January 2, 2015 - 8:00pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

It sounds like you have something else going on perhaps with a yeast infection.  You need to be seen by a doctor to determine what.

Let us know what the doctor says.

take care,


January 3, 2015 - 9:54pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you this helped me a lot! I think young girls should be taught the difference because I wasn't and I almost took the completely wrong medicine for treatment! :-)

July 1, 2014 - 1:56am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.