Gynecologist showing a picture with ultrasound to a young woman patient explaining the features of womens health during a medical consultation in the office

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of any part of the urinary tract from the urethra to the kidneys. Vaginal infections may be caused by bacteria or yeast. Most women will experience a vaginal or urinary tract infection in their life.

What causes a UTI?

A UTIs occurs when bacteria that live on the skin near the vagina and anus spread and enter the urethra. From the urethra the bacteria may spread to the bladder and into the upper urinary tract including the ureters and kidneys. Women are prone to developing UTIs, particularly after having sexual intercourse, due to the anatomy of their urethra. UTIs may also be caused by incomplete emptying of the urinary bladder caused by a blockage or a narrowed urinary.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Often the most obvious sign of a UTI is a strong urge to urinate followed by pain or burning in the urethra as urine exits the body. After eliminating, the women may immediately feel the urge to urinate again. Other symptoms may include pain in the lower abdomen and cloudy, blood tinged, or strong odored urine. An infection that has spread to the kidneys may bring more severe symptoms such as back pain, fever, or nausea. 

What causes a vaginal infection? 

Inflammation of the vagina can be caused by a change in the healthy balance of bacteria and yeast that are normally present. Taking antibiotics, using vaginal products, or sexual intercourse may upset the normal balance. 

What are the symptoms of vaginal infection?

Vaginal infections from a yeast infection usually causes burning and itching of the vulva along with white, non-odorous, lumpy discharge. Bacterial infections of the vagina, known as bacterial vaginosis, usually cause discharge with a strong, fishy odor that may be dark or greenish in color. 

How are UTIs and vaginal infections diagnosed and treated?

If you suspect you have a UTI or vaginal infection you should visit your gynecologist to be tested and treated. For a UTI, a urine sample will be collected and checked for presence of bacteria and white and red blood cells. If present, your doctor will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics and symptoms will generally resolve in a few days. More serious UTIs may require stronger antibiotics or a hospital stay. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are generally tested for by swabbing for discharge and looking at it under a microscope. Depending on the cause of vaginitis, the gynecologist may prescribe an oral medication or a cream or gel that is inserted into the vagina.

Ask your Family Physician about being referred for a consultation with our Gynecologist.