Yeast Infections Vs. Urinary Tract Infections

Yeast infections and UTIs are two very different infections. They feel different and they’re treated differently when you visit a doctor with these problems. Signs of a yeast infection include an itching and or burning sensation around the vulva, anus or inside the vagina….it can pretty much itch anywhere down there when too much yeast is present. Signs also include pain during sex, a yeasty odor, cottage cheese like discharge, and pain when you pee. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat on the toilet examining the discharge in my underwear trying to decide if it looks like cottage cheese….sometimes its difficult to tell especially if it is close to that time of the month. You can have a yeast infection and have some, all, or none of these symptoms. I recall one time when I was in my teens, I visited the gyno for my yearly and she informed me that I had a yeast infection. I had no idea. I felt fine.

Urinary Tract Infections feel quite differently. The pain when you pee when you have a yeast infections feels more like a burning sensation when the urine hits the inside walls of the vagina. The pain when you pee with a UTI is VERY different. With a UTI it feels like needles are being stuck in your bladder. During the early stages of a UTI, the sharp pains happen at the end of the pee. Symptoms can also include fever, dizziness, nausea, and feeling like you always have to pee even when you don’t. If a Yeast Infection is left untreated, it may clear up on its own and you can also treat it with over the counter medications. With a UTI, you must go to the doctor to get antibiotics. If left untreated, a UTI can spread from your bladder to your kidneys and can even cause death. If I had to choose between the two, I think I would rather have a yeast infection as apposed to a UTI….not that I would want to choose between either.

They sound like very different infections, however, there are many similarities when it comes to preventing Yeast Infections and UTIs. UTIs are typically caused by the bacteria e-coli (not the e-coli in food). When e-coli enters the urethra, it can make its way to the bladder and give you a UTI. People used to call a UTI the honeymooners disease. The reason for this is because sex can sometimes help the e-coli enter the urethra by pushing it closer to its opening. Yeast Infections are usually cause by an overgrowth of yeast (candida). Everyone has a small amount of yeast present in their body, which can be healthy. When conditions become unstable in the vagina, that’s when yeast can multiply like rabbits.

I’m just going to touch on a few of the basics for preventing both UTIs and Yeast Infections. These basics are the common suggestions doctors usually give. Often times they do not explain the reasoning behind their suggestions. Always wipe front to back. Women are really at a disatvantage because there is only a small space between the anus and vagina and the bacteria from the anus can cause these infections. Another basic in preventing these infections is to drink plenty of water. Water helps flush out the vagina and urinary tract. Wearing clothing that allows you to breath down there, changing out of a wet bathing suit quickly, consuming a diet low in sugar/carbs, and peeing after sex can also help prevent Yeast Infections and UTIs. The more you can let the area down there breath, the better because bacteria flourishes in warm moist environments. As for the diet low in sugar/carbs, doctors usually don’t tell you that sugar and refined carbs (which turn to sugar) irritate the urinary tract and also feed yeast. This little paragraph is just a glimpse into the steps I followed to rid myself of chronic yeast infections/UTIs. Much more is to come at a later post!

#1 for Preventing UTI and Yeast Infections

I first considered going in detail about all the little remedies for preventing these chronic infections, but then I decided it might be best to start with the most important thing first–DIET. Doctors don’t emphasize this enough and sometimes not even at all. They may drop the hint that lowering your sugar intake might help, but most people don’t really know what that means. If you suffer from these recurring infections, it is not enough to just cut out the “sweets”, such as cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc. The average person consumes about 50 teaspoons of sugar a day. You might be thinking, “well I know that’s not me”. There is a pretty good chance you are consuming that much sugar because nearly everything has sugar in it these days. Even things like lunch meat and yogurt can often have added sugar.

Changing my diet was the best thing I ever did. I was definitely one of those people who consumed 50 teaspoons of sugar a day. I’m sure I exceeded that limit on many days. I was addicted to sugar and carbohydrates. I always had candy in my purse. Sometimes I would make a meal out of poptarts or sugary cereal. Sometimes I’d even make a meal out of a candy bar. When I did try to eat healthy, I followed a low calorie, low fat diet, which consequently was also high in carbs. I also LOVED watermelon. During the summer I would eat a whole watermelon every two days. I felt like that was healthy because watermelon doesn’t have a lot of calories, it was fruit, and it had lots of water in it.

Once I began doing my research for a diet that would help prevent UTIs and yeast infections, I found out quickly that I had being doing everything wrong as far as my diet was concerned. Sugar and carbs feed yeast, and sugar irritates the urinary tract. There are quite a few different diets I found online, but they all seemed to have one thing in common–relatively low in carbs and low in sugar. I chose the Atkins diet route because I wanted to lower my carbs and sugar intake as much as possible in order to starve the yeast and keep my urinary tract happy. Plus, Atkins has a book to follow, tons of recipes, and tons of forums and such for support. It is much easier to do a diet when you have so many resources.

I starting out doing what I thought was Atkins without buying the book. I just followed the basics rules I had read online. I cut out anything white and carby (bread, rice, chips, crackers, popcorn, anything with flour). I also cut out sugar in ANY form. No sweets, no fruit high in sugar. I also cut out caffeine. I later bought the book. The book even has a section on yeast infections and how the Atkins diet can help prevent them. I noticed a big difference within the first two weeks of following the diet. I had no yeast symptoms and my urinary tract felt healthy. I also felt more energized and overall just healthier. It has been almost a year since I went low carb/low sugar, and I haven’t had a single yeast infection or urinary tract infection. Click on the “Diet” section of the site for more details on the diet I follow.