Urinary tract infections and yeast infections are often lumped into the same category because they are two conditions that largely affect only women. Although there are several similarities between a urinary tract infection and a yeast infection, they are two completely separate conditions with different causes, symptoms and treatments.
Urinary System versus Reproductive System
A urinary tract infection is an inflammation of the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, the bladder and the urethra. Its main function is to remove waste and excess water from the blood stream and convert them into urine. A yeast infection is an inflammation of the vagina and/or the vulva. The vagina and the vulva are members of the reproductive system, which includes also includes ovaries and the uterus. The reproductive system's main function is to form eggs in anticipation of insemination and protect the growing fetus as it develops. The only place these two systems intersect is the vulva, where urine is expelled through the tip of the urethra. Other than that, there is no intersection.
Both yeast infections and urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria. However, urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that are normally found on the skin or in the intestinal tract being spread into the urinary system, usually through the urethra. The bacteria then grow and multiply, attaching to the urinary lining and irritating various organs. On the other hand, a yeast infection is caused when new yeast is introduced into the vagina, or there is an increase in certain kinds of bacteria in the vagina. It is essential an imbalance in the bacteria found in the vagina.
Urinary tract infections symptoms mostly appear in your urine. Your urine may be cloudy, dark or even smelly. Sometimes there may be blood in the urine. You may also have cramping or burning in your pelvis, your lower back or while your urinate. Although there may be some burning with yeast infections, the most common symptom is vaginal discharge that is white, thick and odorless. It often looks like cottage cheese.
Both urinary tract infections and yeast infections are treated with antibiotics. However, urinary tract infections are generally treated with oral antibiotics, or intravenous antibiotics for severe cases. Yeast infections are often treated with topical antibiotics. It should be noted that antibiotic treatment for urinary tract infections can lead to a yeast infection. The antibiotics kill so much bacteria, that it creates an imbalance in the bacteria in the vagina.
Both urinary tract infections and yeast infections can be prevented by practicing good hygiene. Wash your genitals at least once day and always after sex. Wearing clean, breathable underwear prevents types of infections. However, a urinary infection can be prevented by drinking lots of fluids and never holding your urine. Always urinate as soon as you feel the urge.