Chances are, you’ve experienced this symptom at some point: the burning sensation that happens when you go to pee. It’s an uncomfortable feeling and one that needs to be addressed.

It’s usually a sign of a UTI, but it can also be an indicator of bacterial vaginosis (BV), herpes or some sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Yeast Infection

The most common reason your vagina burns when you pee is a yeast infection. Yeast infections, also called vulvovaginal candidiasis, are caused by Candida albicans, a yeast (fungus) that lives in warm and moist places like your mouth or the skin on your genitals. Yeast infections can cause itching and burning in those areas as well. Yeast infections are more common in women than men, but anyone can get one.

If you have a yeast infection, your doctor will give you medicine that goes on the skin or in the pill to treat it. You can also try over-the-counter remedies, but talk to your doctor before trying them. Yeast infections can be more serious in some people.

A yeast infection can be a sign of an STI, so it’s important to see your doctor right away. Your doctor may want to do a pelvic exam and ask questions about your sexual history, as well as order lab tests to screen for STIs.

Another reason your vagina burns when you pee could be a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs are infections that happen anywhere in the urinary tract, but they’re most commonly in the bladder and urethra. Your ob-gyn can diagnose a UTI by looking at your discharge and asking about any other symptoms you’ve had, such as painful or frequent urination.

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Sexually Transmitted Infections

Painful urination is often the first symptom of sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs / STDs). These conditions can cause painful or burning urination as a result of inflammation and irritation in the urethra and vulva.

STIs can be spread through genital sexual contact or even from sharing a toothbrush with someone who has an STI. STIs can be caused by bacteria (like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis) or parasites (like trichomoniasis).

If you think you may have a STI, it’s important to talk to your health care provider right away. Your health care professional will want to pee into a cup and use a cotton-tipped swab to get a sample of your vaginal discharge for tests.

Other symptoms of STIs include a painful or itchy penis or vulva, bumps, sores or warts near the anus or inside your mouth and/or genitals, bleeding that’s not your period, or a bad odor in or around the genital area. Some STIs, like herpes and genital warts, can also cause pain when you insert a tampon or condom. Some STIs, such as mycoplasma genitalium and chlamydia, can cause a burning sensation when you pee. Your health care provider will talk to you about the best way to avoid infections and keep your genitals healthy. This might include using a different type of condom or switching to a water-soluble lubricant.

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Kidney Stones

Painful peeing is a common but potentially serious problem. It can be caused by infections like yeast or bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infections, kidney stones and certain STDs. It can also be a side effect of some medications including chemotherapeutic agents and antibiotics, or from vaginal trauma from childbirth or sex. If you’re experiencing burning when you pee, talk to your doctor about it.

The biggest culprit behind the painful sensation you feel when you urinate is likely a urinary tract infection (UTI), which happens when any part of your kidneys, ureters or bladder and urethra gets infected with bacteria. It’s especially common for people with a vagina to get UTIs because their urethra is shorter than those of men and women who have penises.

If a stone in your kidney scratches or irritates the lining inside of your bladder or kidney, blood will leak out of it into your urine. That’s why you may also experience foul-smelling or cloudy urine, and why you might see traces of red or pink in your pee.

A doctor will diagnose a kidney or bladder stone by getting your medical history and doing an exam, which might include a pelvic X-ray. You might also need a urinalysis, a test that checks for urea in your pee and can determine if you have kidney or bladder stones. Lastly, an ultrasound can help doctors see most types of kidney stones.

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Urinary Tract Infections

You may not think you have a UTI, but if you’re having pain or burning while peeing — also called dysuria — it’s definitely worth getting checked out by your healthcare provider (HCP). A UTI is an infection of any part of the urinary tract, but they’re more common in women because they have shorter urethras.

If you have a bacterial UTI, you’ll likely experience painful, deep peeing and a yellowish-green or foul-smelling discharge. You’ll also notice that you have a stronger urge to pee and that your urine is cloudy, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A bacterial UTI can also lead to a kidney infection, so if you’re experiencing this, it’s important to see your HCP right away.

Other causes of a burning sensation while you pee include having an STD or STI. If you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to get frequent STI testing so that any infections can be caught and treated early on, before they cause serious side effects. Today, it’s so easy to get tested and treated for many common STIs — you can even do it at home. Just make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about which STI test is best for you. If you do have an STI, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it.