It may not be possible to prevent all yeast infections or urinary tract infections (UTIs) but a few simple tips can help lower your risk of developing either one.
Differences Between a Yeast Infection and a UTI
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of yeast, a fungus called Candida. It’s normal to have a small amount of yeast in the vagina and vulva, the area around the vagina that includes the clitoris, labia, and urethra. However, too much can lead to a yeast infection.
Signs of a yeast infection may include:
● Itchiness, redness, or swelling in the vagina or vulva.
● Odorless, white vaginal discharge.
● Pain with sex or urination.
UTIs are typically caused by bacteria that enter the body through the urethra, the tube where urine leaves the body. The infection can move up into the bladder or kidneys if left untreated. Common symptoms include:
● Burning or pain with urination.
● Cloudy or dark urine.
● Difficulty emptying the bladder.
● Frequent need to urinate.
● Urine that smells bad or strong.
Risk Factors for UTIs and Yeast Infections
UTIs and yeast infections are common in women. Risk factors that may increase the chance of developing one of these conditions include:
● Weakened immune system.
Women who recently took antibiotics may have a higher risk of yeast infections, while kidney issues or recently having a catheter may raise the risk of developing a UTI.
Treating UTIs and Yeast Infections
Different medications are available to treat yeast infections and UTIs.
Most yeast infections can be treated with antifungal creams or vaginal suppositories without a prescription. If you’ve had multiple yeast infections, your provider may recommend oral antifungal medication or a boric acid vaginal suppository.
Prescription antibiotics are needed to treat UTIs.
Preventing Yeast Infections and UTIs
“A key to good feminine health in cases of UTIs and yeast infections is making sure you match the cause of your symptoms to the correct diagnosis,” says Dr. Shannon Bentley, a Family Medicine provider at St. Elizabeth. “Treating a condition with the wrong approach can sometimes worsen symptoms you already have, and perhaps precipitate new symptoms. For some women, it may be difficult to differentiate symptoms of each condition, which can result in using the wrong treatment without resolution of their symptoms.”
Although UTIs and yeast infections have different causes, these tips can help prevent either of them:
● Avoid using scented products on your vulva, including bubble baths, deodorant sprays, powders, soaps, and tampons.
● Change pads, pantyliners, and tampons frequently.
● Never douche unless your provider recommends it — douching can wash away helpful bacteria that fight infections.
● Take off wet swimwear or workout clothing as soon as you can and wash them after every use.
● Wear underwear with a cotton crotch.
● Wipe from front to back.
If you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar can also help prevent yeast infections. Drinking plenty of water can help prevent UTIs.
When to Talk to Your Provider
Symptoms of UTIs and yeast infections may overlap with other conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis or some sexually transmitted infections that can be very serious. Talk with your provider as soon as symptoms start to get the proper diagnosis and the treatment you need.
If you think you may have a yeast infection or UTI, schedule an appointment with a primary care provider at St. Elizabeth Physicians.