Can You Get a Yeast Infection From Sex?

Yeast infections occur when something throws the balance of bacteria and yeast out of whack. A change in hormones (like from oral sex, pregnancy or the menstrual cycle), antibiotics, lubricants, or certain health conditions can all cause this uncomfortable problem.

Having sex while you’re treating a yeast infection could prolong your symptoms and make your treatment less effective. Learn about what causes yeast infections and how to avoid them.

Causes

A yeast infection is a fungus that thrives in the warm, moist environment of the vagina. It can be caused by anything that throws the balance of bacteria in the vulva off, including lube, antibiotics, and oral sex. Oral sex may be especially dangerous, because the bacteria and Candida that live in a person’s mouth can transfer to the vulva during penetration.

Yeast infections can also be caused by not using condoms during sexual intercourse or by having penetrative sex with a partner who has an active yeast infection. It is important to use condoms when having sex, because the friction of penetrative sex can cause tiny tears in the labia and vulva. These tears allow bacteria to enter the body, leading to an overgrowth of yeast.

Another potential cause of a yeast infection is wearing tight clothing, such as pants or underwear. This can restrict airflow to the genital area, which can cause an imbalance of bacteria and lead to thrush. A change in laundry detergent can also irritate the skin in the vulva, causing an overgrowth of yeast.

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Sometimes a yeast infection can be a symptom of an underlying health issue, such as diabetes or immune system problems. If you are unsure what’s causing your symptoms, talk to your doctor. They will likely do a vaginal exam and take a sample of your vulva discharge to send away for testing.

Symptoms

A yeast infection is a common condition that causes a fungus to overgrow in the vagina. Symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, pain, a cottage cheese-like white discharge and painful urination. Yeast infections aren’t considered sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But if you have a yeast infection and you have sex, it’s possible that you could pass the infection to your partner.

Sex disrupts the normal bacterial environment of the genitals, which can cause an overgrowth of yeast. Yeast infections are also more likely to occur after taking antibiotics, especially for extended periods of time. Other risk factors include wearing tight underwear, frequent or long baths, douching and using birth control or hormone treatment pills.

Men and women can both get a yeast infection, but sex may be more problematic for men. It’s not uncommon for a man to develop a rash on his penis after engaging in oral, anal or vaginal sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. It’s less common for women to transmit a yeast infection to their partners.

Yeast infections can occur in people who aren’t sexually active, but they usually happen for reasons that don’t involve sex. Yeast infections are more common in women with impaired immune systems from conditions like pregnancy, diabetes and using oral contraceptives or hormone treatments that increase estrogen levels.

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Treatment

Yeast infections are usually easy to treat. You can use over-the-counter antifungal creams, ointments, or suppositories with the ingredients clotrimazole or miconazole (Monistat) or get a prescription for oral medications such as fluconazole or ibrexafungerp (Diflucan). These medicines come in one-, three-, or seven-day strengths. You can also try probiotics, which restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in your body. You can find these supplements in yogurt and other fermented foods or take a probiotic pill like Diflucan or Brexafemme.

Using plenty of lubrication during sex can help reduce friction. But don’t use lubricants that contain glycerine, as these can disrupt the vaginal microbiome and worsen yeast infection symptoms. If you have a yeast infection, avoid vaginal and oral sex until you are completely clear of the infection and your symptoms, such as itching and cottage cheese-like discharge, subside.

If you do have sex while you have a yeast infection, you may transfer the infection to your partner or pass it on to other women. That’s why it’s important to follow the full course of treatment, even if your symptoms go away before you finish the medicine.

Prevention

Yeast infections occur when something throws the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina off. That imbalance can be caused by a number of things, including antibiotics, excessive moisture, and sex. Symptoms like itching, vaginal burning and cottage-cheese-like white discharge aren’t fun for anyone involved. Most yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications (like Monistat) in a few days. However, if your symptoms persist or are recurrent, it’s best to see a doctor for a prescription treatment.

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Unlike STIs, yeast infections aren’t sexually transmitted, so they can happen in women who don’t have any sex with anyone. In fact, sex can actually aggravate a yeast infection because it can cause swelling of the labia and vulva. And it’s important to wait until your yeast infection has completely cleared up (depending on the treatment you choose, that may take 1-7 days) before having sex.

A few simple steps can help prevent a yeast infection from occurring in the first place. Be sure to use unscented soap when you wash your vulva, and avoid using lubricants that contain scented ingredients. It’s also a good idea to wear loose, cotton underwear that allows your vulva to breathe. And, be sure to pee after sex, as this can help clear bacteria from your anus and urinary tract that can encourage yeast infections. Finally, it’s a good idea to eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, as this can help boost your immune system.

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