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    Can men get yeast infections?

Dear Ate Anna,

Recently, my wife got a yeast infection. Can I get a yeast infection from her? Or do yeast infections only happen in women?


Dear Roger,

Yeast infections are very common in women. The commercials that sell products for treating yeast infections target women so, many people get the impression that yeast infections happen only in women. But this is not true. Men can also get a yeast infection in their genitals and it is usually referred to as penile yeast infection.

Roger, since your wife had a yeast infection, it is possible for you to get it from her through sexual contact if you are not using protection (condoms). Couples can pass a yeast infection back and forth so it is important for both partners to be treated to avoid re-infecting each other. It is generally recommended to refrain from having sex until both partners have been treated. The infection does not necessarily start with the woman - a man can get a yeast infection first and then pass it to his partner.

There are many causes of yeast infections. In fact, men get yeast infections the same way as woman do. Ate Anna should mention that yeast is normally present in the penis. The good bacteria in the body help control the yeast. However, when the good bacteria is destroyed or weakened, yeast can multiply, leading to an overgrowth of yeast in the penis.

The common causes for penile yeast infection are:

  • Use of antibiotics – although the antibiotic is supposed to kill the bacteria that make a person sick, it can also destroy the good bacteria that keep the yeast under control.
  • Diabetes – men with diabetes are more vulnerable to yeast infections as the higher amount of sugar in the urine creates a good environment for yeast.

• Health conditions – health conditions that weaken the immune system such as stress, chronic illness, HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy and other lifestyle issues such as obesity, an unbalanced diet with a high intake of sugary food, and food containing yeast can increase the likelihood of getting yeast infections.

A man with a yeast infection may or may not have any visible symptoms. So, if your wife or partner tells you that she or he has a yeast infection, it is best for you to see a doctor. The common symptoms of penile yeast infection include:

  • irritation and soreness of the head of the penis;
  • severe itching on the head of the penis;
  • a white, clumpy discharge;
  • redness and/or a small blister on the head of the penis.

If you have any of the above symptoms, see a doctor for a correct diagnosis. Some of the symptoms of a penile yeast infection resemble those of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A yeast infection can be treated easily with anti-fugal medication or cream.

A yeast infection is not something to be ashamed of, but men should not ignore any of the symptoms. If left untreated, a yeast infection can eventually damage the reproductive sex organs and could lead to infertility or other sexual health problems. In addition, the tiny breaks and sores on the penis can increase the chances of getting HIV if you’re having unprotected sex with an infected partner.

Yeast infections can be annoying, especially if they keep recurring. Ate Anna would like to suggest some ways to help prevent penile yeast infection. Yeast likes a warm moist environment. Always keep the genital area dry and clean. For uncircumcised men, it is important to clean under the foreskin. Wear loose cotton underwear and avoid very tight pants or jeans. Eat a healthy balanced diet. Some practitioners suggest eating plain yogurt (no sugar added) containing active culture probiotics (acidophilus), which can help replenish the good bacteria in the body. Practice safer sex, that is, using condoms, but avoid condoms with the spermicidal lubricant, Non-Oxynol 9 as it may cause a yeast infection.

Roger, if you want more information about male yeast infections, please talk to your doctor or other health care provider.

Take care, Ate Anna

Take care,
Ate Anna

Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200 – 226 Osborne Street N., Winnipeg, MB R3C 1V4 or e-mail: annal@serc.mb.ca

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