A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that can cause irritation, discharge and itching or burning of the genitals. It is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. This type of infection affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetime.
STDs can sometimes mimic the symptoms of a yeast infection. These symptoms can include a vaginal discharge or an itching/burning sensation in the genital area. This can often cause an STD to go undiagnosed as many people dismiss these symptoms as a simple yeast infection. Let’s take a look at some possible conditions that could mimic a yeast infection:
Sometimes called “trich”, trichomoniasis is different from other STDs because it is caused by a parasite. This STD can cause a vaginal discharge, an itching which can range from mild to severe and even a strong burning sensation or pain in the vagina. Treatment is generally a simple course of antibiotics.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial infections. These two STDs are very similar. According to the CDC, signs and symptoms of chlamydia or gonorrhea include a burning or discomfort with urination, a genital discharge, and in some cases soreness of the infected area. Gonorrhea can infect the genitals, anus, or throat. Gonorrhea can be spread through oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Treatment for both is usually a course of antibiotics either taken orally or by injection. You should speak to your doctor about the best form of treatment for these two infections.
According to the CDC, people can confuse herpes for a yeast infection as well. Genital herpes can be transmitted by engaging in vaginal, anal or oral sex with a partner who already has the disease. The fluid contained within a herpes sore carry the virus and coming into contact with those fluids can cause you to become infected. It is also possible to contract the virus from a partner who does not have a visible sore present because the virus can be released through the skin. Since genital herpes is caused by one of two viruses, there is currently no cure. There are several medicines and treatments that can help you to prevent or shorten outbreaks.
If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to an STD, the first step is to have STD testing performed. This is the best way to know the current status of your sexual health. If available in your area, In-Home Collection even allows you to be tested at home, work or another location of your choice.
Reviewed by Holly Martyn, PA- C