I was recently asked if a urinary tract infection could lead to chronic vulvar pain. A urinary tract infection is when bacteria invades the urinary tract, and causes such symptoms as burning with urination, frequency of urination and the feeling of an urgent need to urinate. Although a urinary tract infection(UTI) does not cause any vulvar symptoms, the antibiotics used to treat a UTI can change the vaginal flora and allow a yeast infection to occur, which can cause a lot of vulvar itching and discomfort. It can take some time for all the symptoms to resolve.
Chronic vulvar pain can be a symptom of interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder and can have many symptoms, including many symptoms similar to a UTI. The difference is a urine culture will show no bacterial growth, and the symptoms won’t be resolved with antibiotics. IC is also sometimes associated with pelvic floor dysfunction, which can cause chronic vulvar pain.
Vulvodynia can also be confused with a UTI, because the urine may cause a burning sensation on the vulva. But typically those patients will not have the frequency and urgency of a UTI.
So, although a UTI does not cause chronic vulvar pain, there are many conditions that can mimic the symptoms of a UTI and are associated with vulvar pain.