Yeast Infection or STD: How to Tell the Difference

If you are one of the 30% of people with trichomoniasis who make have symptoms, you may experience itching, burning and thin discharge that is clear, white, yellowish or greenish, explains the CDC. Other symptoms of trichomoniasis include discomfort when peeing and a fishy smell, CDC said.

When you think about whether you are dealing with a yeast infection or this particular STD, the texture of the discharge may contain clues. Although the flow of trichomoniasis may be white, the fact that it is typically thin makes it a different consistency than that of yeast infection. And here’s another useful piece of information to remember when you’re not sure if you have a yeast infection or a trichomoniasis: Yeast infections don’t usually come with the fishy smell that trichomoniasis can generate.

Trichomoniasis treatment requires antibiotics, CDC explains, and to prevent reinfection, your sexual partners should also receive treatment at the same time as you to clear the infection. (And, sorry, you should wait until you have sex again until all of you have finished your antibiotics and all the symptoms have subsided.)

3. Bacterial vaginosis

It is in fact the most common vaginal health problem among women aged 15 to 44, according to the CDC. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the “bad” bacteria in the vagina have a larger presence than the “good”. Various things can cause this, such as douching and, unfortunately, sex. This does not mean, however, that it is technically an STD – experts do not know exactly how sex can contribute to the development of bacterial vaginosis, CDC Notes.

In all cases, bacterial vaginosis can cause changes in discharge (it can turn gray or greyish white and smell like fish), itching and burning in the vagina.

Although yeast infections are usually treated with an antifungal medication, you may need antibiotics to get rid of bacterial vaginosis. (However, this sometimes goes away on its own.) Consult your health care provider to talk about your symptoms and find out how you can get any treatment you may need right now.

4. Herpes

It might seem like it would be relatively simple to differentiate a yeast infection from an STD like genital herpes. One of the main markers of herpes is painful genital sores. The fact is that these sores can cause symptoms quite similar to the signs of yeast infections, especially when they are inside the vagina, which can cause itching and burning, says Dr. Abdur-Rahman.

That said, discharge is not a symptom normally associated with genital herpes, Mayo Clinic Explain. So if you experience itching and burning with a marked change in your discharge, you may be dealing with something other than herpes (or more). Although herpes is not currently curable, there are antiviral drugs that can help suppress epidemics. If you have a lot of discomfort, it may be helpful to ask your doctor for advice.

5. Allergic reaction or sensitivity

Although they are great organs, the vaginas are also quite sensitive. “If you use a soap, lotion or cream to which you are allergic or sensitive, it can cause itching and burning due to inflammation,” says Dr. Abdur-Rahman. Things like laundry detergents that touch your sheets and towels could also be the culprit here, just like latex condoms, if you’re allergic.

Whatever the cause, this type of vaginal irritation is known as non-infectious vaginitis, which is a very elegant way of saying that you suffer from vaginal inflammation that is not the result of bacteria, fungi or other pathogens, Mayo Clinic Explain. In addition to this itching and burning, non-infectious vaginitis can cause fairly runny discharge (which may differ depending on what exactly inflames your vagina).


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