Can a Yeast Infection Cause a UTI?


A woman in a a white shirt and black stonewashed jeans holds her hands to her genital region. There is a red glowing color under her hands to signify pain or burning.
Summary
  • Yeast infections and UTIs are common infections in the United States.
  • A UTI and a yeast infection share various symptoms, but there are some differences.
  • Treatments for UTIs and yeast infections include antibiotics and over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medications. However, treatment is different for the two types of infections. In some cases, the infection may go away on its own.
  • Yeast infections aren't known to cause UTIs, but taking antibiotics for a UTI can sometimes cause a yeast infection.
  • It’s possible to have both a UTI and a yeast infection at the same time.

Both urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections are very common in the United States.

According to the Urology Care Foundation, about 10 in 25 women (40%) and 3 in 25 men (12%) in the United States will have UTI symptoms during their lifetime.

It is also estimated that 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime and 40-45% will have two or more episodes, according to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC).

In this article, we’ll cover UTIs, yeast infections, and whether or not there’s a connection between the two.

What is a Yeast Infection?

A vaginal yeast infection, also called candidiasis, is a common condition. Bacteria and yeast cells are even found in a healthy vagina.

However, when the balance of bacteria and yeast changes, the yeast cells can grow. This will result in itching, swelling, and irritation.

Vaginal yeast infection symptoms can be relieved by treating it for a few days. In more severe cases, it may take longer to heal.

Vaginal yeast infections aren't categorized as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), because there are women who aren't sexually active that can be affected by them.

What are Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system, including your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

Most infections happen in the lower urinary tract, which is made up of the bladder and the urethra.

Women are more likely to get a UTI because a woman's urethra is shorter than a man's. The pain and aggravation of a bladder infection can be hard to deal with. However, if a UTI spreads to your kidneys, it can have serious effects.

Antibiotics are usually used to treat a urinary tract infection, but you can take steps to lessen your chances of getting a UTI in the first place.

Different Parts of the Urinary Tract

  • Kidneys: These small organs are located on the back of your body, just above the hips. They are the filters your body uses to remove waste and water from your blood and turn it into urine.

  • Ureters: The ureters are thin tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to your bladder.

  • Bladder: A sac-like container, the bladder stores your urine before it leaves the body.

  • Urethra: This tube carries the urine from your bladder to the outside of the body.

Symptoms: Urinary Tract Infection vs. Yeast Infection

A urinary tract infection and a vaginal yeast infection share some symptoms, but there are a few differences. Here's a breakdown of symptoms:

UTI

  • Pain and burning when urinating

  • Feeling the need to urinate more often (even when you don’t have to urinate)

  • Disrupted sleep, caused by the need to go to the bathroom frequently

  • Discolored or cloudy urine (it may be red or pink from blood)

  • Foul-smelling urine

  • Fever, chills, and nausea

  • Pain or feelings of pressure in your lower abdomen, back, and sides

  • Pain in your pelvis (mostly women)

Yeast infection

  • Pain when urinating or during sex

  • Itchiness in the vagina or vulva

  • Swelling in the affected area (for vaginal yeast infections, this would be in the vagina and vulva)

  • Pain in the affected area

  • Having unusual (usually odorless) vaginal discharge that is thick and milky

Causes: Urinary Tract Infection vs. Yeast Infection

UTI Causes

UTIs occur when bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), enter the urinary tract. There are risk factors that increase your chances of getting a UTI, including:

  • Sexual intercourse

  • Contraceptive methods, such as diaphragms or spermicide

  • Improper bathroom hygiene, such as not wiping front to back

  • Kidney or bladder stones

  • Urinary retention

  • A urinary catheter

  • Failing to drink water while exercising/dehydration

It is more common for women to get a UTI than men because the female urethra is shorter. This makes it easier for bacteria near the vagina to enter the bladder.

Yeast Infection Causes

People get yeast infections when there is an overgrowth of Candida. Candida is a type of fungus, called candida fungus, that lives inside the body and in moist areas of the skin. Yeast infections usually happen in places like the:

  • Gut

  • Mouth

  • Vagina

  • Throat

There are various risk factors for yeast infections, including:

  • Having a weakened immune system

  • Taking antibiotics, or having recently finished a course of antibiotics

  • Pregnancy

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Being on hormonal birth control with high doses of estrogen

  • Using vaginal sprays or douches

  • Wearing tight underwear and clothes (this creates a warm and moist environment)

Treatment: UTI or Yeast Infection

Treatments for UTIs and yeast infections are different.

Antibiotics are usually used to treat UTIs, which combats bacterial infections. The type of infection and the person's medical history play a big role in what kind of antibiotics they need to treat it.

Symptoms usually go away soon after a person starts taking antibiotics, but they should still finish the whole course of medicine that their doctor prescribed.

Yeast infection treatment, on the other hand, can vary more. People with mild vaginal yeast infections may be able to treat them with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medications, which come in the following forms:

  • Ointments

  • Creams

  • Oral tablets

  • Suppositories

A prescription-strength antifungal oral tablet, like fluconazole, might be necessary for severe yeast infections.

It's easy to treat mild UTIs and yeast infections. They might even go away on their own. However, if a person wants to treat either infection at home, they should still talk to their doctor first.

At the moment, there isn't enough scientific evidence to support the use of only natural remedies to treat UTIs or yeast infections.

Can Yeast Infections Cause UTIs?

Even though yeast infections aren't known to cause UTIs, taking antibiotics for a UTI can sometimes cause a yeast infection. This is because broad-spectrum antibiotics kill a range of bacteria, even the healthy bacteria in your vagina, which protects you from overgrowths of yeast, and possibly an infection.

However, yeast infections are caused by an excessive amount of fungi in the vaginal area. These fungi can get into your urethra and cause a UTI, but it's not very likely.

It is also possible to have both a UTI and a yeast infection at the same time.

Who Gets UTIs and Yeast Infections?

UTIs are very common, with 10 in 25 women (40%) and 3 in 25 men (12%) having one at some point in their lives. Women get UTIs more often than men because their urethras are shorter than a man's and closer to the vagina and anus, which means more bacteria can get in.

Other risk factors include:

  • Using or having used antibiotics recently

  • Obesity

  • Pregnancy

  • Being sexually active

  • Having a weakened immune system

  • Having birthed multiple children

  • Diabetes

  • Menopause

  • Kidney stones or other urinary tract blockages

There are a lot of places where yeast infections can happen, most commonly vaginal yeast infections, but you can also get them on your breasts if you're breastfeeding, as well as moist places like your mouth.

A vaginal yeast infection is not an STI, but on rare occasions you can pass it to a sexual partner. Your risk of contracting a vaginal yeast infection increases if you:

  • Are between puberty and menopause

  • Are pregnant

  • Use hormonal birth control

  • Have diabetes without managing high blood sugar effectively

  • Are using or have recently used antibiotics or steroids

  • Use products in your vaginal area like douches

  • Have a compromised immune system

Where Can I Learn More About UTIs and Yeast Infections?

If you're experiencing some of these symptoms, you can meet with a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner from your smartphone, computer, or tablet. Head over to LifeMD.com to make your first appointment.

Dr. Banita Sehgal

Dr. Sehgal received her medical degree from Western University in Los Angeles and trained as Chief Resident at White Memorial Medical Center, also in Los Angeles. She’s been practicing medicine for 20+ years and has a specific interest in women’s health.

Talk To A Doctor

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

Connect with a doctor now!

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

Feel better with LifeMD.

Your doctor is online and ready to see you.

Join LifeMD today and experience amazing healthcare, discounted labs and prescription medications... plus around-the-clock access to medical guidance.