Yeast Infection vs. UTI: What Are the Differences?

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Although yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs) have similar symptoms, they are entirely separate conditions. Specifically, one is a fungal infection, while the other is a bacterial infection, requiring different treatments. 

This article discusses the differences between yeast infections and UTIs and why getting an accurate diagnosis is important.

A healthcare provider measuring pH test strips of urine sample

urbazon / Getty Images


While these infections are sometimes lumped together, each has distinct symptoms Yeast infections affect the vagina and UTIs affect the urinary tract. 

Yeast infection symptoms typically include:

Common signs of a UTI include:

  • Frequently feeling like you have to urinate
  • Burning sensation while urinating 
  • Urine that is cloudy or pink or tinted red

Because some symptoms overlap, like noticing a burning sensation while urinating, it can be challenging to determine the type of infection without a proper diagnosis.


Though the underlying causes differ, both infections share common risk factors.

Yeast Infection

A yeast infection develops when Candida (a naturally occurring yeast in the body) starts to grow out of control. This can happen when there are changes to the balance of vaginal bacteria, which is commonly prompted by:

Sometimes irritation from sexual activity can prompt a yeast infection, but it’s not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because you can still develop one without ever having sex.


Most UTIs are caused by harmful bacteria that enter the urinary tract. This is more likely to happen in people with a female anatomy because of how the urethra (part of the urinary tract) is positioned in the body. 

UTIs can also commonly develop if you are:

  • Pregnant
  • Past menopause
  • Diabetic or another chronic health condition that affects the immune system 
  • Sexually active
  • Taking certain types of birth control
  • Using hygiene products like vaginal douches or sprays


There are multiple ways to test for and diagnose yeast infections and UTIs. Some can be done at home, while others require a healthcare provider visit.

Yeast Infection

Over-the-counter (OTC) home tests don't specifically diagnose yeast infections but can help determine whether the pH of the vagina is abnormal.

But yeast infections aren't the only infections linked to having a higher vaginal pH, so it's important to get an official diagnosis from a healthcare provider. They'll perform a pelvic exam and take a swab (or sample) of vaginal discharge that may be sent to the lab for diagnosis.


There are multiple different types of at-home and healthcare provider tests to help diagnose a UTI. These options include an OTC testing strip that will change colors to indicate a result after contacting your urine stream.

At a healthcare provider's office, you might also give a urine sample in a small collection container, which will be analyzed for the presence of UTI-causing bacteria. More severe UTI symptoms might be diagnosed with imaging of the urinary tract to check for the presence of an infection.

If you are prescribed antibiotics for a UTI, remember to take the entire course of medication exactly as the healthcare provider has prescribed, even if the infection seems to be clearing up. This will help make sure the UTI is completely resolved.


Yeast infections and UTIs are different, so they can't be treated the same way. This is why getting an accurate diagnosis is important to clear the infection quickly and effectively, as some may become severe if left untreated.

Yeast Infection

Several types of OTC and prescription treatment options are available for yeast infections. Some people try an OTC product that contains an antifungal ingredient for mild yeast infections to help break down the Candida yeast. These options can come in vaginal suppositories, tablets, or cream applications.

If your yeast infection was diagnosed by a healthcare provider or is deemed severe, they'll likely prescribe a dose of Diflucan (fluconazole). This stronger antifungal is taken by mouth and may be repeated with an additional dose for particularly stubborn or chronic yeast infections.


Once you have an official UTI diagnosis, your healthcare provider will recommend a treatment plan. They'll likely prescribe antibiotics to help kill off the UTI-causing bacteria. The antibiotic's type and strength will depend on your infection's severity.

They may also suggest taking OTC pain medications, like Advil (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen), to help ease any discomfort you may feel until the antibiotics start kicking in. Another OTC medication known as Azo (phenazopyridine) can also help target pain in the urinary tract.


It's not uncommon to develop at least one of these infections throughout your lifetime. That said, experts recommend some lifestyle tips to help prevent these uncomfortable experiences.

Yeast Infection

Lifestyle tips for preventing a yeast infection focus on reducing exposure to heat, moisture, and irritation that can become a breeding ground for yeast overgrowth. Tips include:

  • Wear loose-fitting underwear
  • Don't douche
  • Avoid irritating feminine hygiene products
  • Avoid hot tubs
  • Keep diabetes and blood sugar levels under control


UTI prevention is typically associated with safer sex and personal hygiene practices, such as:

  • Keeping the genital area clean, particularly before and after sex
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Avoiding holding in your urine
  • Staying away from harsh cleansers in the genital area


Yeast infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs) cause similar symptoms in the same part of the body, but they're two different types of infections with separate causes. A yeast infection develops when an overgrowth of vaginal yeast requires an antifungal medication for treatment. A UTI occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and is typically treated with antibiotics.

While some OTC diagnosis options are available, getting an accurate diagnosis from a healthcare provider is a good idea to ensure you're treating the infection appropriately.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Cristina Mutchler
Cristina Mutchler is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in national media, specializing in health and wellness content.