It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a... UTI?

Written by Rachel Giuliani

...or is it BV? Maybe a yeast infection?

As you probably already know, problems affecting the vaginal and vulvar area can be tricky to diagnose since they can have similar or even overlapping symptoms. Ultimately, it's always good advice to go see a doctor if you’re able, particularly if this is a rare occurrence for you - or on the other hand, if it’s becoming a little too common.

Three of the most common foes are urinary tract infections (UTIs), bacterial vaginosis (BV), and yeast infections. To complicate matters further, these conditions all share some common symptoms with certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here’s how to get a better idea of what you’re dealing with.

Common symptoms

All three of these conditions share some common symptoms. A few STIs do, as well:

  • Burning when you pee
  • Unusual discharge

So you’ve got those. What else is going on? Welcome to the least fun game ever!

It’s likelier to be a yeast infection if…

  • Your vulva itches or burns
  • The discharge is thick, white, and not really smelly
  • You’re on antibiotics or have recently taken a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria along with the bad, so they can upset the balance in your vagina.

It’s likelier to be bacterial vaginosis if…

  • The discharge is thin and white, grey, or green
  • It doesn’t particularly itch or feel uncomfortable
  • There’s a fishy odor that gets stronger after sex
  • You have several sex partners or a new sex partner. It’s not known why, but you’re at highest risk if your partners also have vaginas.

It’s likelier to be a UTI if…

  • You have to pee often and urgently
  • You have discomfort in your lower abdomen
  • Your urine is cloudy or dark
  • You feel tired or run-down

Additionally, all of the symptoms above can be symptoms of STIs. If you’re unsure, see a doctor, especially if you’re pregnant. And you can reduce the risk of all of these conditions by practicing good vaginal health: clean sex toys before every use, wipe front to back, don’t douche, pee after sex or masturbation, and avoid smoking.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.