STI vs. UTI: How Can I Tell the Difference?

Wondering about the difference between the symptoms of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is quite a common dilemma. There are some symptoms similar to both an STI and a UTI, so sometimes it may be difficult to to discern which type of infection your symptoms represent. What follows may help you to spot the difference quickly and take action.

Urinary Tract Infections

This frequent complaint of many females is an infection that can be easily treated with antibiotics. A UTI is caused by a bacteria in the urethra, the bladder, ureter, or kidneys. It is usually accompanied by painful urination and a burning sensation. Women should never try to treat themselves by drinking cranberry juice thinking it will pass, as this will not clear the infection. It is imperative to see your gynecologist whenever you experience these symptoms.

Left untreated, a UTI can progress to a serious kidney infection.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Incidences of this infection have been rising steadily in recent years. According to the CDC, almost 20 million cases are diagnosed each year. An STI can be derived from oral, vaginal or anal sex. In addition to these activities, it is also entirely possible to contract an STI from intravenous drug use, or even childbirth and breastfeeding.

Sadly, sometimes an STI has no noticeable symptoms and can be present for many years. This often leads to severe complications like chronic pain, infertility, and cancer. It can spread to a sexual partner and even damage the fetus if you become pregnant. For all of these reasons, it is essential to be tested once or twice a year for an STI, regardless of your symptoms.

Why Can It Be so Confusing?

Woman in pain from an STI or UTI

An STI and a UTI share many similar symptoms, which creates the biggest problem in telling the difference between the two.

These common symptoms include the following:

  • Burning and painful urination
  • Frequency and urgency of urination
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Cloudy or dark urine
  • Pelvic pain

Sometimes it’s possible to have both infections.

Not a Time to Self Diagnose

If you have any of the above symptoms, see your obstetrician-gynecologist immediately. Both of these infections can be successfully handled as long as they are diagnosed and treated early.

Since a Sexually Transmitted Infection may have no symptoms, ask to be tested once or twice a year to protect yourself and your partner. Most gynecologists will ask you if you would like to complete this type of testing during your annual gynecological exam, making it a perfect time to check in on your sexual health.

Request an Appointment

To see a gynecologist from Women’s Care about a potential UTI or STI, please contact our office today at (913) 384-4990, or fill out our secure form to request an appointment online.