Is It a Urinary Tract Infection or Chlamydia?

The only way to find out is to see a doctor and have the necessary tests done. As the symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can often be similar, you won't be able to know by checking any symptoms you might have against lists you can find online.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract -- the bladder and the urethra. More seriously, the infection can spread to the kidneys or ureter. UTIs are more common in women than men.

Urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract through the urethra and beginning to multiply in the bladder. The E. coli bacteria is implicated in many UTIs, particularly those affecting the bladder (cystitis). Other bacterial infections can cause UTI.

Chlamydia is caused by infection with the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.

Some of the symptoms of a UTI and chlamydia are similar, including painful urination and lower abdominal pain. However discharge from the vagina or penis is usually chlamydia or another sexually transmitted disease, rather than a UTI. Some changes to urination, including a persistent desire to urinate, urine of a cloudy appearance and urine that appears red or darker, are more associated with UTI than chlamydia.

If you have these kind of symptoms, your doctor may use a range of diagnostic tests to identify the cause. This can include analysis of a urine sample, culturing the bacteria that are present in your urine, an ultrasound of your urinary tract and/or cystoscopy (using a long, thin tube with a lens to see inside your urethra and bladder).

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In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about urinary tract infections in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:

  • Urinary Tract Infection or Sexually Transmitted Disease
    How can I tell if I have a urinary tract infection opposed to an STD such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea which has the same symptoms?
  • Urinal Infection
    I have had a genital irritation for a week, but no warts, lesions or visible rashes. The symptoms are similar to an STD but I have not had any sex recently.

Elsewhere on the Web

For additional reliable information on urinary tract infections, we recommend the following page on another website: