While sexual activity does not cause a yeast infection, it can increase the risk of one developing by introducing new bacteria to the vagina. Learn more in this article.
Yeast infections are particularly common in females. They are not usually serious, and people can often treat them with medications that they can purchase from a pharmacy.
According to the Office on Women's Health, most women will get a yeast infection at some point in their life.
Doctors do not consider yeast infections to be sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, sexual activity may affect whether a person develops a yeast infection.
Keep reading for more information about the causes and treatments for yeast infections, as well as how sexual activity can affect the risk.
An overgrowth of microscopic Candida causes fungus yeast infections.
The Candida fungus is a normal part of the vaginal environment and is harmless when kept in balance.
However, under certain conditions, this fungus may grow out of control and cause a yeast infection.
Sexual intercourse does not directly cause yeast infections, and doctors do not consider yeast infections to be STIs.
However, some sexual activities, such as penile, toy, or finger insertion, can introduce bacteria to the vagina. The new bacteria can potentially trigger the growth of the Candida fungus, causing a yeast infection to develop.
It is also possible to develop a yeast infection following oral sex. A person's mouth and saliva also introduce bacteria.
It is not always possible to prevent yeast infections from developing. However, there are some steps a person can take to reduce their risk factors, including:
- frequently changing tampons, pads, and other menstrual products
- wearing breathable underwear
- removing wet clothes as soon as possible after working out or swimming
- not douching
- avoiding scented feminine products
- always wiping front to back after using the toilet
- keeping blood sugar under control
- avoiding hot tubs or hot baths
People with weakened immune systems and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are also at a higher risk of developing a yeast infection.
When a person has a yeast infection, it is best to avoid sex. This is because partners can spread the infection to each other and pass the infection back and forth.
Approximately 15% of males who have sex with someone with a vaginal yeast infection develop an itchy rash on their penis.
Men living with diabetes and those with uncircumcised penises are at higher risk of developing a yeast infection.
Condoms and dental dams may help prevent the spread of yeast infections between partners, but are not always effective for this type of infection.
People should also let any of their sexual partners know if they have an infection so they can also seek treatment.
If a person suspects they have a yeast infection, they should talk to a doctor, who can rule out other, potentially more severe infections. The typical course of treatment for a yeast infection is antifungal medication.
Most people can buy over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medication without a prescription from their local drug store. Treatments come in several forms, including pills, creams, ointments, and suppositories.
The treatment can be a single dose or may be spread out over the course of a week. People can follow the directions on the packaging and ask a pharmacist if they have any questions.
Some people experience recurrent yeast infections or those that do not go away with OTC treatments. If this is the case, a doctor may prescribe a stronger antifungal medication.
Sometimes, a person will need to take antifungal medications for up to 6 months to help prevent future infections.
A person can develop a yeast infection after sex if the sexual intercourse introduces a foreign body, such as bacteria, to the vagina.
Yeast infections are not a major cause for concern. When a person experiences their first yeast infection, they may choose to get a diagnosis from their doctor. It is possible to treat most yeast infections with an OTC medication.
People with active yeast infections should avoid sexual intercourse to help avoid spreading the infection.