Q: Can men get yeast infections? I am a female and I have a yeast infection. Will my boyfriend get it if we have sex?
A: Great question! The short answers to your inquiries are– yes, yeast infections can be contagious and men can get them. Yeast infections are caused by an overabundance of the Candida fungus, which is naturally occurring in very low levels in the vagina, and typically cause no problems for either partner. But, once either of you has a yeast infection, it will not go away on its own. So, good for you for asking before putting your partner at risk.
From Beast Mode to Yeast Mode: Contracting Yeast From a Partner
Aside from dangerous skin-to-skin contact, the male urethra is the main gateway for any type of bacteria or fungus to enter into the system through the bladder or bloodstream. The urethra is a front door into your system, and is one of the main reasons why wearing a condom during anal sex is so important, even in monogamous relationships, as is switching into a new condom when going from anal to vaginal sex. No one likes UTIs.
Yeast can travel from your partner into the male urethra, without much provocation, that is, if you choose to have sex without the protection of a condom. But, this can also occur even while using a condom, if the partner with a yeast infection is using an over-the-counter cream or gel like Monistat, as this medicine can severely impact the integrity of a condom. FYI, Monistat can also be used on men if they contract yeast. Much like using an oil-based lubricant with latex condom, anti-yeast creams can cause even an extra strength latex condom to break, resulting in the transmission of yeast and an unwanted pregnancy.
Like most aspects of safer sex, communication is the key. If your partner knows they have a yeast infection and have yet to treat it, use a condom. If they are in the process of treating it, abstain from penetrative sex, even if you plan on using a condom, as it may break. To learn more about vaginal health and preventing yeast infections in women read these Vaginal Health Do’s and Don’ts. Women who have sex with women should also be wary of sharing toys or having unprotected sex if one partner has a yeast infection, as it may be contagious to other women as well.
Determining if it’s Yeast or Something Else
Only a doctor can determine whether you have a yeast infection or something like jock itch, trich, chlamydia or gonorrhea. Yeast is typically very itchy, causes a rash on head/foreskin of the penis and can include thick, lumpy discharge and pain during intercourse or urination, which is why it is so commonly mistaken for something else– like a bacterial infection. All of these ailments are treatable, but not by over-the-counter medicine, like a yeast infection is.
If you used a yeast infection cream and are experiencing no relief, you do not have a yeast infection. You have something else entirely. Get tested. However, if a doctor tests you positive for yeast, they may prescribe you a Diflucan pill which acts faster and is less invasive than creams and gels from a drug store.
Is a Yeast Infection the Same Thing as Thrush?
Thrush is caused by the same fungus as a genital yeast infection, but thrush usually refers to the mouth area. Oral thrush is very common in receptive partners of men and women who are harboring the Candida fungus. Oral thrush results in uncomfortable throat swelling and discharge and it closely resembles strep throat in appearance. It requires medical treatment and medicine in order to clear up. Just another reason to always use a flavored condom or dental dam for oral sex! Try our Flavored Sampler MAX to stay safe from oral yeast infections.
Other Ways to Prevent Yeast Infections
People with immune problems due to taking antibiotics, immunosuppressants or having diabetes are more likely to get yeast infections than those who are not, but anyone can get them. Proper hygiene, diet and maintaining a clean, cool and dry environment for your genitals are important factors for keeping yeast at bay.
Doctors also advise against using cleansers as lube and wearing underwear made from any material other than cotton. Women with high sensitivities to sugars in lubes should avoid lubes containing glycerin. Try the glycerin-free Pjur Woman BodyGlide or Wet Naturals Beautifully Bare lubes instead to avoid producing too much yeast.