Young woman experiencing symptoms and wondering about UTIs vs. yeast infection

UTIs vs. yeast infections: what's the difference?

Written on March 12, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are “infection[s] in any part of the urinary system”; the urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra [1]. The most common type of UTI is a bladder infection, also known as cystitis [2]. UTIs are a common occurrence and typically not life-threatening. However, they can be quite uncomfortable and painful. Seeking prompt medical attention is essential to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys, which can lead to pyelonephritis.

UTI symptoms

Although symptoms may differ depending on the individual, the CDC has outlined the following symptoms for bladder and kidney infections [2].

Symptoms of a bladder infection:

  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling the need to urinate despite having an empty bladder
  • Bloody urine
  • Pressure/cramping in the groin or lower abdomen

Symptoms of a kidney infection:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Lower back pain or pain in the side of your back
  • Nausea or vomiting

Causes of UTIs

UTIs usually happen when bacteria, such as E. coli, get into the urinary tract through the urethra and reach the bladder. E. coli is a type of bacteria that is usually present in the digestive system. However, when it spreads to other parts of the body, it can cause problems—namely, UTIs. Other types of bacteria, like Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Klebsiella pneumoniae, can also cause UTIs.

You are more likely to be at risk for a UTI if you have had a bladder infection in the past, have a vulva and vagina, are sexually active, use diaphragms or spermicide, are menopausal, have other urinary tract problems or a suppressed immune system, use a catheter, or have recently had a urogenital surgery [2].

Yeast infections

People with vulvas frequently experience yeast infections, which occur when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the vaginal area. Vaginal candidiasis “affects up to three out of four women at some point in their lifetimes,” and “many women experience at least two episodes” [3].

While some yeast in the vagina is normal, excessive yeast growth can result in an infection that is characterized by symptoms such as burning and itching in the genital region, as well as white discharge resembling cottage cheese in texture. Antibiotic use can cause yeast infections by disrupting the body's natural bacteria balance.

Yeast infection symptoms

The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms as ones that can range from mild to moderate [3]:

  • Vulvar and vaginal itching and irritation
  • Burning sensation (in general, during sexual activity or while urinating)
  • Vulvar redness and swelling
  • Vaginal pain and soreness
  • Rash
  • Thick, white, and odorless vaginal discharge with the texture of cottage cheese
  • Watery vaginal discharge

Key differences

If you’ve never experienced one or either, it may be tricky to discern the difference between UTIs vs. yeast infections. Here are some key differences between the two [4]:

  1. CAUSE: Yeast infections are caused by fungi, where UTIs are caused by bacteria
  2. SMELL: Yeast infections might smell “yeasty” like bread, where UTIs have no smell
  3. DISCHARGE: UTIs don’t have any associated discharge; yeast infections do
  4. PAIN: UTIs are often associated with pain during sex or while peeing, and sometimes yeast infections are
  5. ITCHINESS: UTIs are not associated with itchiness; yeast infections are
  6. URINATION: UTIs cause frequent urination; yeast infections do not
  7. TREATMENT: Yeast infections are treated by antifungals, and UTIs are treated by antibiotics

Where you can get treatment

You can go to your usual HCP, to a clinic, or to urgent care. You can also rule out STIs with Everlywell’s at-home sexual health lab tests.

Telehealth via Everlywell

Everlywell can help you access a healthcare provider through a Virtual Care Visit. If you are experiencing UTI or yeast infection symptoms, schedule your appointment by visiting Everlywell's online treatment options. Speak with a qualified healthcare provider based on your availability from the comfort of your home through a remote video call.

You are just three simple steps away from UTI or yeast infection treatment:

  1. Create your profile online, fill out your medical history, and check to see if your insurance is accepted.
  2. Schedule your telehealth visit with various specialized options, including yeast infection telehealth.
  3. Receive a care plan to address your needs and symptoms, which may include testing, online UTI prescriptions, and lifestyle recommendations.

How does a woman get a urinary tract infection?

What can cause a UTI?

Things to avoid when you have a UTI: what you need to know


  1. Urinary tract infection (UTI). Mayo Clinic. URL. Published September 14, 2022. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  2. Urinary Tract Infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Published October 6, 2021. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  3. Yeast infection (vaginal). Mayo Clinic. URL. Published January 11, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2023.
  4. Yeast infection vs. UTI: What's the difference? Evvy. URL. Published August 30, 2022. Accessed March 8, 2023.
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