UTI vs yeast infection: How can you tell the difference?

There’s nothing worse than feeling pain and discomfort in your genital area. It can be quite scary, especially when you are not sure what it is that’s causing it. Your mind would probably think about a yeast infection or a UTI (urinary tract infection). Quite often, these are the two conditions that lead to discomfort and pain down there! While you may know about them, you may not know the differences between the two infections.

Although the types of infections are similar, the symptoms and causes could be different. So, HealthShots asked Dr Payal Narang, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Lulla Nagar, Pune, to understand the differences between a UTI and yeast infection.

UTI vs yeast infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) or yeast infections are common occurrences in women. Women who are diagnosed with either of these conditions experience discomfort and pain in the vaginal area.

Dr Narang explains, “A UTI occurs when the bacteria from one’s skin or rectum enter the urethra and tend to infect the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

A yeast infection is a fungal infection that leads to signs such as irritation, discharge, and intense itching of the vagina and the vulva. These two conditions are different from each other. Women should immediately consult a doctor when they notice any symptoms.”

Symptoms you should know

The signs and symptoms of both these conditions are quite different. Dr Narang shares the following symptoms of the disease.

As far as UTI symptoms go, women suffering from the condition will experience symptoms such as painful urination, frequent urination, cloudy urine, pelvic pain, and abdominal distress. Whereas, the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection are painful intercourse, vaginal discharge, swelling of the vagina, itching, redness, and a burning sensation down there.

Causes of UTI

Dr Narang shares that a UTI occurs due to contact with stool, which contains bacteria, such as E. Coli, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and urinary retention. UTI occurs mainly in pregnant women, obese, menopausal and those with weakened immune systems.

Causes of yeast infection

A yeast infection can occur due to Candida that builds up in a moist area of the skin, causing an infection, certain medications, wearing tight undergarments, hormonal changes, and unmanaged diabetes. A yeast infection is also seen in pregnant women, having compromised immunity, ones using antibiotics, and those using hormonal birth control pills, explains the expert.


The diagnosis and the treatment also vary with both conditions. A UTI is diagnosed with a urine sample, whereas, yeast infection is detected by taking a swab test. Depending on the condition, the doctor would suggest appropriate medication.

How to prevent a UTI and a yeast infection?

The gynaecologist suggests the following ways to prevent a UTI and yeast infection:

  • Make sure to wipe your vagina from front to back
  • Keep your blood sugar levels in check
  • Wear cotton undergarments
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes
  • Do not wear wet clothes
  • Say no to chemical-laden products and douching down there
  • Do not hold the urine for a longer time
  • Drink enough water
  • Avoid taking hot baths

Don’t forget to check with your doctor to know the condition you’re suffering from and what you can do to treat or prevent it.

12 effortless ways to keep your bladder healthy

Just like it’s important to get waste out of your house regularly for its upkeep, when it comes to your body, your urinary tract plays an important part! It helps to filter waste and extra fluid from the bloodstream and pushes it out of the system. Having a healthy bladder helps to keep the toxins away, thereby working towards proper functioning of the overall body.

Dr Dhivya R, Consultant – Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Kauvery Hospital (Electronic City), Bengaluru, says that by following certain everyday habits, women can keep their urinary system healthy.

Tips to keep your bladder healthy

1. Use the washroom often and when needed

Try to urinate at least every 3 to 4 hours. Holding urine in your bladder for too long can weaken your bladder muscles and make your more prone to urinary infection.

2. Take enough time to fully empty the bladder while urinating

If urine stays in the bladder for too long, it can make bladder infection more likely. Rushing to urinate may not allow you to fully empty the bladder and this may affect the urinary tract system.

3. Be in a relaxed position while urinating

Relaxing the muscles around the bladder make it easy to empty it completely. For women hovering over the toilet seat may make it hard to relax, so it is always best to sit on toilet seat.

4. Wipe from front to back after using the toilet

Wiping your private parts after a bowel movement is a must. It can help in keeping urinary tract infections at bay.

5. Urinate after sex

Sexual activity can move bacteria from bowel or vaginal cavity to the urethral opening. Both men and women should urinate after sex to lower infection.

6. Pelvic floor exercise

Also known as kegel exercises, these help to strengthen pelvic floor muscles to hold urine in bladder. Daily exercise strengthen these muscles to keep urine from leaking when you sneeze, cough, lift, laugh. These exercises strengthen muscles that help to keep the urinary bladder, thereby preventing infection.

7. Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes

Wearing loose cotton clothing will keep the area around the urethra dry. Tight fitting pants and nylon underwear can trap moisture and help to grow bacteria.

8. Exercise regularly

Physical activity helps to avoid bladder problem and constipation. It helps to maintain healthy weight. This is important since an overweight person may be at higher risk of leaking urine.

9. Watch what you eat

People with bladder problems should avoid some foods and drinks like soda , artificial sweeteners, spicy food, citrus fruits and juices, as it may worsen the problem.

10. Water consumption

In general, drinking enough fluids helps you urinate every few hours. Flushing the bladder helps you prevent urinary tract infection.

11. Avoid constipation

Too much stool built in the colon is called constipation. Eating plenty of high fiber diet, drinking enough water and being physically active help to prevent it.

12. Quit smoking:

Bladder problems are more common in people who smoke. Smoking irritates the urinary bladder and increase risk of bladder cancer too.

When to seek help for bladder problems?

Some signs of bladder problem include
* Inability to hold wine or leaking urine.
* Need to urinate more frequently and urgently
* Cloudy urine
* Blood in urine
* Pain and burning before, during and after urinating.
* Trouble starting or having a weak stream while urinating.
* Trouble emptying the bladder