Can a Man Give a Woman a Yeast Infection?

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Many organisms live on our skin and in our bodies. These bacteria and fungi play a vital role in our bodies’ natural ecosystems. Sometimes a person's ecosystem can become unbalanced and cause skin rashes, irritation, and pain. A yeast infection happens when a type of yeast common in the human body, Candida albicans, overgrows.

Men and women alike can develop yeast infections in various places on or in their bodies, such as in the vagina, anus, mouth, or between other folds of skin. Balanitis is an umbrella term that refers to inflammation and irritation of the penis. Several conditions can potentially cause balanitis symptoms, including a yeast infection.

If someone has a yeast infection, it’s possible that they may spread that extra yeast to a partner who is already susceptible to yeast overgrowth. 

Yeast Infections After Sex

Each time a person has sex, they can pass Candida to their partner. That’s because yeast already lives on the tongue, the genitals, and elsewhere on the human body.

Most of the time, this transferred Candida fungus is benign. A yeast infection is not contagious in the usual sense because almost every person already has this strain of fungus on their body. 

A man can give a woman a yeast infection through sex, but having sex with a man who has a yeast infection doesn’t always lead to infection for his partner. Around 75% of women will develop at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetimes.

Because men are less likely than women to experience genital yeast infections, many men may not have considered their risk for Candida overgrowth or may not recognize their balanitis symptoms.

Yeast thrives in warm, moist environments, such as in the folds near the head of the penis or on the foreskin. Uncircumcised men tend to experience yeast infections at higher rates than their circumcised peers. These balanitis symptoms can include red or white rashes, a white film or residue on the penis, itching, or irritation.

If a man has balanitis caused by yeast, his sexual partner may develop their own yeast infection. During anal or vaginal sex, the yeast on the penis may transfer to a partner’s genitals. The vagina and the anus are both sites where yeast can overgrow.

The anus and vagina can both be difficult to clean. These body parts naturally cultivate Candida because they are warm, and the skin and membranes in the genitals can be sensitive to changes in pH (acidity/alkalinity), bacterial colonization, or other factors. 

If a partner is already at risk of developing yeast infections, they may develop their own infection after having sex. But yeast infections are not classified as sexually transmitted infections because there are other lifestyle factors and health conditions that can lead to a yeast infection independent of sex.

Even though yeast infections can sometimes be spread through sexual contact, they are not considered sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth and throat. People develop oral thrush for various reasons, including poor dental hygiene, a dry mouth, or treatment with antibiotics or inhaled corticosteroids (“steroid inhaler”). People with poor immunity, such as those with AIDS, cancer, or diabetes, or those who have had an organ transplant, are also at risk of getting oral thrush.

Steroids may weaken the body’s immune system, allowing Candida to overgrow, and antibiotics can disrupt the body’s normal levels of healthy bacteria. With too few of these bacteria, fungi like Candida can overgrow, causing an infection.

Because yeast exists throughout our bodies, it’s possible for one person with a genital yeast infection to spread Candida to another part of their partner’s body. For example, a man with balanitis may spread this genital Candida to a partner’s mouth during fellatio. That partner may or may not develop oral thrush.

There are several ways a person can develop or spread oral thrush during sex. Someone predisposed to yeast infections may develop oral thrush after performing cunnilingus on a partner with a vaginal yeast infection. Likewise, it’s possible to experience oral thrush after engaging in anilingus with a partner who has an anal yeast infection.

How to Prevent a Yeast Infection

Some preexisting conditions can predispose a person to develop a yeast infection. Some risk factors for contracting a yeast infection include an immunodeficiency condition, pregnancy, or diabetes.

There are also various dietary and hygiene choices that can lead to yeast infections. People with these health issues may have trouble managing their risk of yeast infections, but these lifestyle factors may be easier to avoid. 

Actions that may make someone more susceptible to Candida overgrowth include:

  • Wearing the same unwashed underwear over multiple days 
  • Sharing underwear with someone who has a genital or anal yeast infection
  • Sharing a toothbrush with someone who has oral thrush
  • Not bathing thoroughly
  • Not changing clothing after sweating profusely
  • Sitting for extended periods of time in wet clothing or a wet swimsuit

People may consider these preventive techniques to avoid getting or spreading a yeast infection:

  • Wearing condoms or dental dams
  • Abstaining from sex until a yeast infection is resolved
  • Washing your body regularly with unscented soap and water
  • Avoiding a diet that is high in sugar
  • Wearing loose, breathable clothing
  • Wearing cotton underwear instead of polyester or synthetic fabrics 
  • Showering and changing clothes after exercising 

A Word From Verywell

A yeast infection can feel painful, and it can be frustrating to have one. You should seek a doctor’s advice to properly diagnose your infection because yeast infection symptoms could also resemble those of other conditions like STIs, hemorrhoids, or strep throat. 

Although yeast infections are common, they warrant medical attention. The Candida organisms will rarely go away on their own. Untreated infections will likely get worse and may cause cracking skin or other painful complications

Fortunately, most of these infections clear up quickly with over-the-counter creams or prescription drugs. An antifungal treatment can help provide you and your skin some much-needed relief. 

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10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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