If you’re making frequent –and painful– trips to the bathroom, you might assume you have a urinary tract infection. But, there are other conditions that cause pelvic pain and trouble with urination, most notably, sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
So, how can you tell if you’re suffering due to a UTI… or an STI?
It’s difficult to differentiate a UTI from an STI based on symptoms alone, since both infections cause burning during urination, pelvic pain, and a frequent, sudden urge to urinate. However, if you are sexually active and are also experiencing vaginal symptoms such as discharge, bleeding and/or irregular periods, it may suggest an STI. Make sure to talk to your doctor about your specific symptoms and risk factors for these types of infections.
The only way to determine exactly what kind of infection you are dealing with is to head to the doctor for testing.
Why it’s important to seek treatment
Urinary Tract Infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder. In most cases, UTIs can be successfully treated with a short course of antibiotics and symptoms clear up within a few days. However, when left untreated, urinary tract infections can lead to serious complications including recurrent infections, kidney disease, and even sepsis.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial infections that spread through sexual intercourse and develop in the reproductive organs, the urethra, throat, and rectum. Both infections are curable and are treated with antibiotics. Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause permanent health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and increased risk of HIV.