A man can get a genital yeast infection by having unprotected sex with a woman who has candidal vaginitis—a vaginal yeast infection.
Keep in mind that a yeast infection isn’t a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and isn’t associated with developing an STD—although both share similar symptoms, including itching, discharge, and pain.
What Causes Male Yeast Infections?
1. Sexual transmission
A yeast infection can be transmitted between two people who have unprotected sex, which is why some people confuse it with an STD. It may be uncommon, but a woman who has unprotected sex with her male partner can infect him as well. If one or both partners are infected, it is important to follow specific guidelines provided by your doctor until the infection has healed.During the treatment process, use a condom while engaging in sexual activity and wash your hands in between touching your own crotch and your partner’s. Remember, engaging in sexual activity isn’t prohibited if you have a yeast infection, although the experience may be uncomfortable. It’s ultimately up to you and your partner.
Antibiotics could destroy “good” bacteria, causing yeast to multiply. As a result, long-term antibiotic use can cause penile yeast infections, especially in men with diabetes or immune system-compromising illnesses, such as HIV.
Men diagnosed with diabetes run a higher risk of getting a yeast infection, because of the higher amounts of sugar in their urine. It’s recommended that if you have frequent yeast infections or diabetic symptoms (i.e. urinating, frequent thirst, etc.) to speak to your doctor.
Condoms that contain nonoxynol-9 in the lubricant could contribute to anal yeast infections. Opt for condoms that do not contain spermicidal lubricants.
Other contributors of male yeast infections could include using irritating soaps and deodorants, wearing tight-fitting undergarments, and living in hot, humid environments.
How Serious Are Yeast Infections?
Yeast infections are usually mild and easy to treat. One third of all vaginitis cases in women are caused by Candida—a type of yeast that thrives in dark, warm, moist places. (i.e. the vagina or the gastrointestinal tract.)
Another common infection caused by Candida is oral thrush, which is an infection of the mouth. It has similar symptoms to a sore throat, including pain when swallowing and an altered taste of food.
There are serious and even life-threatening cases of yeast infections—but they are usually limited to immune-compromised patients (i.e. people with HIV) or patients who have undergone procedures with contaminated equipment.
Male Yeast Infection Symptoms
The following symptoms may not occur until a few days after contracting a yeast infection:
- Severe itching and/or burning on the tip of the penis or foreskin
- Soreness of the end of the penis
- Thick and lumpy discharge under the foreskin
- Unpleasant smell
- Painful urination
- Red rash on affected areas—approximately 15% of men develop an uncomfortable rash on the penis if they have unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. This rate is highest among men who are not circumcised.
Testing for Yeast Infection in Men
Physicians will be able to easily detect the red irritation found around the glans (end of the penis)—this is typically where the first sign of a yeast infection occurs. You will need to be prepared to answer some personal questions about your sex life, such as how sexually active you are and whether or not you use condoms.
Testing may include:
- Taking a couple of swabs from the glans
- A urine test (in case the patient suffers from diabetes)
- Blood tests (to show the level of glucose in the body)
Do-It Yourself Treatments
Men can treat their yeast infections with antifungal treatments (i.e. miconazole) that can be picked up at the local pharmacy. Apply the medication topically to the affected penile skin, twice a day for one week (or as directed). Speak to your pharmacist or doctor if you have any questions.
Keep in mind that if the rash doesn’t go away, or if it frequently returns, seek further medical advice to make sure it can’t be attributed to another condition.
Prescription Treatments for Male Yeast Infections
Your doctor will likely prescribe one of the following if you suffer from a yeast infection:
- Diflucan: This drug is used to treat fungal infections and is almost always effective; keep in mind that allergies to this drug are not uncommon.
- Nizoral: This is another broad spectrum, antifungal antibiotic drug that can treat fungal infections.
Don’t feel embarrassed if you contract a yeast infection. Practice good hygiene (including cleaning the penis foreskin with soap and water) and periodically apply antifungal cream to prevent the infection from recurring.
Regardless of which symptoms surface, contact your doctor immediately so they can properly diagnose you and give you the proper treatment you require.
“Yeast Infections in Men,” Michigan State University web site; https://www.msu.edu/user/eisthen/yeast/men.html, last accessed July 23, 2015.
“Men Get Yeast Infections, Too!” One Medical web site, March 30, 2015; http://www.onemedical.com/blog/live-well/male-yeast-infection/.
Vroomen-Durning, M., “Is It Safe to Have Sex With a Yeast Infection?” Everyday Health web site, September 9, 2014; http://www.everydayhealth.com/yeast-infection/sex/.
“Yeast Infection in Men (balanitis),” STD Guide web site; http://www.std-gov.org/stds/yeast_in_man.htm, last accessed July 23, 2015.