UTI vs STD: What’s the Difference?

No one likes to think about intimate problems like UTIs (urinary tract infections) or STDs –– especially if you’ve never had one before. For many, experiencing symptoms related to both UTIs and STDs can be a frightening experience, one fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. Fortunately, a little education and sound advice can go a long way toward improving your situation. If you’re concerned about your well-being, but don’t know the difference between UTI vs STD symptoms, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s how you can tell the two apart:

What Causes UTIs vs STDs?

STDs are, unsurprisingly, passed through sexual contact. Typically, STDs are transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Furthermore, you can get an STD from other activities that allow STDs to travel from person to person (think, sharing needles).

UTIs, on the other hand, occur when bacteria enters the urinary tract and begins to multiply in the bladder. It’s worth noting here that women are much more likely to experience a UTI; in fact, about one in five women will have a UTI at some point on their life. To the original point, though, a number of factors can contribute to a UTI including:

  • Certain birth control methods like diaphragms
  • Wearing tight jeans/pants
  • Not urinating after sex
  • Not urinating when you need to
  • Wiping from back to front
  • Having a new sexual partner
  • Douches or powders that irritate the urethra

UTI vs STD Symptoms

Both UTIs and STDs can cause pain during urination, the need to urinate frequently, and dark or cloudy urine. In some instances, UTIs may also cause blood during urination or pain in the pelvic region. The main difference between the two issues, then, is that STDs can manifest in other ways. (I.E. STDs aren’t limited to the urethra/bladder.) Genital warts, chancres on the genitals or mouth, discharge during urination, fevers, nausea, sore throat, and fatigue are a few common STD symptoms that will let you know you’re dealing with something beyond a UTI. Remember though, STDs can remain asymptomatic for long periods of time, which means that even if you don’t experience those symptoms you could still have an STD.

UTI and STD Risks and Complications

Left untreated, both UTIs and STDs can lead to serious –– even life-threatening –– medical issues. For a comprehensive look at the worst-case scenarios that can occur when STDs are ignored, click here. UTIs, conversely, can also cause a myriad of further health problems, such as permanent kidney damage, complications during pregnancy, and sepsis.


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