Urinary Tract Infections vs. Vaginal Infections
What’s the Difference Between a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Vaginal Infection?
If you experience discomfort in your genital area or when you urinate, you may have an infection. Two types of infections that commonly affect these areas are urinary tract infections (UTIs) and vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. While each of these conditions are distinct, some of their symptoms, causes, and prevention methods are similar. The good news is that both conditions are treatable and more importantly preventable!
“The good news is that both UTIs and Bacterial Vaginosis are conditions that are treatable and more importantly preventable!”
Although UTIs and vaginal infections are quite different, it’s possible to have both at the same time. In fact, treating a UTI with antibiotics can sometimes lead to a vaginal infection. In addition, having bacterial vaginosis may predispose you to getting recurrent Urinary Tract Infections.
Did you know that some vaginal bacteria may even trigger recurrent UTIs?
In young, sexually active women, about 80 percent of UTIs are caused by E. coli. Conventional thinking holds that recurrence occurs when E. coli is reintroduced into the urinary tract, however, new research suggests another way for a subsequent UTI to develop: The vaginal bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis triggers E. coli already hiding in the bladder, usually under a protective biofilm, to cause another UTI. These findings help explain why sexual activity is associated with UTIs. When Gardnerella vaginalis gets into the bladder, this vaginal bacterium causes dormant E. coli from a previous infection to start multiplying again, causing another UTI. G. vaginalis also may be a contributor to more serious – and potentially deadly – kidney infections.
UTIs and vaginal infections may cause pain when urinating or discomfort in the genital area; however, generally other symptoms and the treatment for the conditions are different.
“UTIs and vaginal infections symptoms may be in the same general area, but they’re distinct and need to be treated differently”
UTI symptoms typically affect urination. They may cause a burning sensation when you urinate, or you may feel a need to urinate more frequently. Vaginal infection symptoms may include pain when urinating, but you’ll also experience pain and itchiness in the affected area. Vaginal infections also typically cause a thick, milky discharge.
“It’s important to understand the difference between the various types of infections and their symptoms so you can ensure you are getting the right treatment.”
Know How to Tell the Difference!
Understanding the differences between a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis and a urinary tract infection (UTI) is important so you can get the appropriate treatment or clearly describe symptoms to a doctor if these issues do not clear up on their own. The chart below that outlines symptoms of common infections including UTIs, Yeast Infections, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) and Trichomoniasis.
If you have recurrent bacterial vaginosis infections, (BV), don’t fret as you now have a non-antibiotic and non-prescription option to prevent your next bacterial vaginosis infection (BV).
Medical Complications: While milder UTIs will often go away on their own without treatment, you shouldn't avoid seeing a doctor if the symptoms persist for more than a couple of days. Learn more about why and when you should see your doctor.
UTI Prevention: Anyone who has ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) knows full well how frustrating and uncomfortable they can be. Getting ahead of UTIs, with these UTI prevention tips, can help you prevent UTIs.
Antibiotic Resistance: The growing concern over the risk of antibiotic resistance is the primary reasons most healthcare practitioners are now turning towards non-antibiotic approaches to prevent recurrent UTIs. Learn more about using antibiotics wisely!