How can I tell a yeast infection from a sexually transmitted disease (STD)?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a yeast infection and a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Vaginal discharge should be evaluated by your doctor, who can look at the discharge under a microscope and give a proper diagnosis. Most often, yeast infections are very itchy, cause white discharge and may cause vaginal irritation. Many STDs can cause similar symptoms. If you are unsure, see your doctor.
Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine

An itch, burn, or discharge is not always a yeast infection, regardless of whether or not the symptoms go away when you use an over-the-counter (OTC) product to treat a presumed yeast infection.

Many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have transient symptoms, causing an initial itch, burn, or discharge, but then those symptoms resolve on their own, although the infection is still there. This is not only true, but very common, especially with chlamydial infections.
The problem is that even though now silent, this infection can be damaging your reproductive tract, possibly even leading to infertility.

So, when is a yeast infection just a yeast infection (which is really a yeast overgrowth, not a true infection)? Well, if you are taking an antibiotic (which kills off the good bacteria in your vagina along with the problem bacteria causing an infection elsewhere, like your sinuses), and you have not ever had a sexual partner (or are in a long-standing monogamous relationship), it is likely yeast.

If you have had a new sexual partner, however, I'd suggest you go to your doctor and be diagnosed accurately.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.