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yeast infection vs gonorrhea

By: RSC Editorial Team

October 3, 2023

Yeast Infection vs. Gonorrhea: Understanding the Differences

Whether you’re struggling with itching, pain, or unusual discharge, you may be wondering if you have a yeast infection or gonorrhea. Yeast infections and gonorrhea share similar symptoms yet come with varying risk factors, complications, and treatment protocols. Understanding the differences between yeast infections and gonorrhea can help you seek the right care for your condition. 

Untreated gonorrhea can spread to the blood, causing life-threatening conditions. Because of this risk factor, learning to differentiate a common yeast infection from much more severe STIs is vital for your health. 

At Rapid STD Testing, we offer same-day STD testing to help you stay ahead of your health. Below, we discuss everything you need to know about yeast infections versus gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted infections. Read on to learn about symptom identification, getting tested, and prevention. 

All About Yeast Infections and Gonorrhea

Yeast infections and gonorrhea share similar symptoms, like vaginal discomfort, leading many to underplay a much more serious condition. We will cover how each infection works below so you can understand the key differences.

What Is a Yeast Infection?

A vaginal yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis) is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans. The infection typically occurs when the balance between the vagina’s healthy and harmful bacteria becomes disrupted. 

An overgrowth of Candida albicans can occur after taking antibiotics, wearing a wet bathing suit for too long, and more. You may be at a higher risk for frequent yeast infections if you have a compromised immune system, high estrogen levels, or severe diabetes. 

Because of how yeast infections occur, they are not considered STIs. Yeast infections are incredibly common, affecting approximately 75% of women at some point in their lives. 

Yeast infections can clear up in just a few days with antifungal medication. The diagnosis and treatment process are extremely straightforward. 

What Is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria that spreads via sexual transmission. Because the STI spreads through sexual bodily fluids (semen and vaginal secretions), you can contract gonorrhea through oral sex, anal sex, penetrative sex, and sharing sex toys. Anyone who has unprotected sex is at a high risk of contracting gonorrhea. 

While gonorrhea may not be as common as yeast infections, it’s still quite prevalent, ringing in as the second-most common bacterial STI with approximately 1.14 million new cases in the U.S. per year. Around half of these cases are patients between the ages of 15 and 24. 

Gonorrhea can cause a range of symptoms, which we’ll cover below, or it can sit dormant. The infection spreads easily because many people carry it without symptoms, meaning they don’t realize they have it. 

Prompt diagnosis and treatment with the recommended antibiotics can cure a gonorrhea infection. Unfortunately, untreated gonorrhea can develop into lifelong health complications. Because of this risk, you should receive regular STI testing. 

You can order a rapid STD test from Rapid STD Testing today. 

Symptom Identification: Is It a Yeast Infection or Gonorrhea?

Understanding how symptoms differ between a yeast infection and gonorrhea can help you determine the severity of your condition and which healthcare provider you should visit. 

Let’s start with yeast infections. Yeast infections typically cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain, soreness, and itching around the vulva and vagina
  • A burning sensation when urinating or during intercourse
  • Vaginal redness and inflammation
  • White, thick, and odorless or watery discharge

The moment you notice any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with your provider. They will likely recommend a course of antifungal medications to clear the infection. The recovery period usually only takes a few days. 

Men can experience yeast infections as well, with the primary symptoms impacting the penis and foreskin. You may notice discharge, moisture, pain, and itching. 

Now, let’s discuss gonorrhea symptoms. Gonorrhea in men versus women can differ. Women may experience the following:

  • White or yellow vaginal discharge
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Bleeding even while not menstruating 
  • Pain or itching in the anus (for all genders when spread through anal sex)
  • Itchy, sore throat (for all genders when spread orally)

Men may experience yellow or green penile discharge, pain while peeing, testicular pain, and inflammation.

As you can see, gonorrhea shares numerous symptoms with yeast infections, though a few set them apart. Your best option is to visit your healthcare provider for a confirmed diagnosis.

A gonorrhea diagnosis for women requires a pelvic exam to swab the cervix. For men, your provider will take a fluid sample from the penis. Providers may also use urine samples, throat samples, or rectum samples, depending on your symptoms. 

Gonorrhea treatment requires antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a ceftriaxone shot. While the antibiotics can rid your body of the infection, they cannot undo any harm the bacteria caused or prevent you from contracting gonorrhea again. 

Gonorrhea is curable when treated promptly, though a few strains occasionally resist antibiotic treatments. When left untreated, gonorrhea can spread to the reproductive organs, cause pelvic inflammatory disease, and spread to nearly all major organs. Pregnant women with gonorrhea can spread the infection to their newborns, creating additional health risks, like blindness.

Yeast Infections vs. Other STDs

Yeast infections can mimic symptoms of other STIs, including the following:

  • Herpes: Causing painful genital sores and itchiness
  • Trichomoniasis: Causing vaginal burning, unusual discharge, and itchiness
  • Chlamydia: Causing abnormal discharge, bleeding between periods, and abdominal pain

Because of such similarities, you should visit your doctor or order a 10-panel STD test from Rapid STD Testing if you notice any symptoms. 

Getting Tested for Gonorrhea

Because gonorrhea is one of the most common bacterial STIs, you must get tested for it regularly to protect your health. You can have the infection without symptoms, unknowingly passing it to partners. Even worse, the bacteria may be spreading to your blood and critical organs if you don’t receive prompt treatment. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all sexually active women under the age of 25 get tested for gonorrhea at least once per year. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you should get tested just in case. If you notice any of the symptoms outlined above, visit your healthcare provider immediately to begin treatment. 

Early detection for gonorrhea and other STIs is critical in achieving the best possible outcome. When left untreated, gonorrhea can:

  • Spread to reproductive organs
  • Cause pelvic inflammatory disease 
  • Cause infertility and other complications
  • Lead to blindness in infants
  • Lead to liver and heart inflammation or brain damage
  • Scar the urethra in men

You can get tested for gonorrhea by visiting your provider or local health clinic. At Rapid STD Testing, we offer discreet 10-panel STI tests, plus a full guide on privacy in STD testing so you can feel more secure during your next exam. 

Determining whether you have a yeast infection versus gonorrhea can feel overwhelming. You can avoid such infections by practicing prevention methods. 

The top tips for preventing yeast infections include avoiding scented products, changing out of wet clothing as quickly as possible, wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing, and avoiding hot tubs. Certain medications, like antibiotics, can increase your risks, though you may be unable to avoid taking them. In such scenarios, be prepared with antifungals on hand in case you notice signs of a yeast infection.  

Preventing gonorrhea, on the other hand, revolves around practicing safe sex. The infection spreads through sexual fluids, so you must use the barrier method during all sexual contact, including oral sex, anal sex, and penetrative sex. 

Keeping open communication with your partner can help you both stay healthy. We recommend urging your partner to get tested regularly for all prevalent STIs to ensure you’re both safe. If your test comes back positive, you should speak with our partner and stop having intercourse until you’ve completely cleared the infection. 

At Rapid STD Testing, we offer fast and discreet STI testing to make the process easy. 

Protect Your Health by Getting Tested Today

Now that you know the differences between a yeast infection and gonorrhea, you can actively protect yourself and your partner from numerous common infections. Because so many STIs share similar symptoms, you must get tested regularly to prevent the spread and protect your health. 

Whether you notice symptoms or simply want to get your regular STI test, we’re here to help. At Rapid STD Testing, we offer fast, private, and secure testing for ultimate peace of mind. Order tests online from Rapid STD Testing, visit a local clinic, or call our team at (866) 872-1888 with any questions. 


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By: RSC Editorial Team
October 3, 2023

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