Can You Get a Yeast Infection After Having Sex?

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

A yeast infection is a fungal infection that can occur in many different parts of the body, but it can be more alarming when it is found in the vagina or on the penis. Fungal infections are not sexually transmitted, and they are easily treated. Even though a yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it can develop because of sex.

This article discusses yeast infection symptoms, treatment, and prevention, and when to talk to a healthcare provider.

Low Section Of Woman Sitting On Toilet Bowl In Bathroom

George Mdivanian / EyeEm / Getty Images

Symptoms

A yeast infection of the vagina is called vulvovaginitis. A yeast infection of the penis is called balanitis.

A yeast infection of the vagina or penis causes redness, irritation, a white cottage cheese discharge, and intense itching.

On an uncircumcised penis, the white discharge is usually found between the skinfolds.

Sometimes people will experience pain when urinating, and the yeast infection can be confused with a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI).

People can also have intensely itchy small sores, called satellite lesions, on the outside of the vagina and the penis.

Prevalence of Yeast Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 75% of people with a vagina will have at least one yeast infection during their lifetime. Approximately 10% of people with a penis will have balanitis, particularly in those who are uncircumcised.

Can Sex Cause a Yeast Infection?

The most common fungus associated with a vaginal or penile yeast infection is Candida albicans.

Fungi and certain bacteria normally live on the skin and usually do not cause any problems. When the balance of normal bacteria and fungi is disrupted, fungi can become more dominant and cause yeast infections.

Several factors, including sex, can disrupt the normal bacterial environment of the vagina and penis.

Penetrative Sex

Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections, but they can be transferred from one partner to another during penetrative sex. The use of a barrier method of birth control, such as condoms, can help prevent the spread.

Yeast infections are also more likely to occur if a person maintains poor hygiene after sex.

Oral Sex

A yeast infection inside the mouth and throat is called thrush. While it does not seem that a person who performs oral sex on someone with an ongoing yeast infection is likely to develop thrush, clinicians recommend holding off on oral sex or using a dental dam or condom during the course of the infection.

This guidance is especially important for people with a weakened immune system due to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), since people with HIV are more prone to fungal infections and thrush.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

A yeast infection is usually not very concerning and is easily treated. However, yeast infections can be recurrent in at-risk individuals and people who do not avoid specific triggers such as poor hygiene.

You should consider seeing a healthcare provider for your symptoms if:

  • You have a yeast infection for the first time.
  • You are unsure about the diagnosis.
  • Your symptoms do not improve with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medication.
  • You have three or more episodes in less than a year.

Treatment

Several over-the-counter medicines treat yeast infections.

Antifungal creams, ointments, and suppositories are available. These medications are typically used for three to seven days, and they are usually successful in clearing the infection. Options include Lomitrin (clotrimazole), Monistat (miconazole), and Vagistat-1 (tioconazole).

As an alternative to OTC topical medicines, a healthcare provider can prescribe an oral antifungal called Diflucan (fluconazole). It typically works in a single dose.

A longer duration of treatment of two weeks to several months is only indicated for recurrent or complicated yeast infections. Longer-duration topical and oral therapies need to be prescribed by a healthcare provider. If symptoms do not resolve after seven days of OTC treatments, you should make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

Unless your sexual partner also has symptoms of a yeast infection, treatment for them is not needed.

To fully clear the condition, it's important to develop good hygiene practices. This will also help you avoid yeast infections in the future.

Risk of Antifungal Cream

Antifungal cream and ointment might weaken latex condoms and diaphragms, so you should consider a second method of birth control if you have sex while taking medication for a yeast infection.

Prevention

You can take several measures to prevent recurrent yeast infections, including:

  • Wear cotton underwear that isn't too tight.
  • Do not douche, since this removes normal bacteria from the vagina.
  • Avoid scented feminine products.
  • Do not spend too much time in hot tubs or hot baths.
  • Try to avoid taking antibiotics unless truly necessary.
  • Do not linger in wet clothes like swimsuits and sweaty attire for long periods.
  • Wash every day and maintain proper hygiene, especially of an uncircumcised penis.

Summary

Sex can disrupt the normal bacterial environment of the genital area, which works to prevent an overgrowth of fungus (yeast). This kind of disruption in the balance of normal bacteria and fungi can lead to a yeast infection. Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections, but they can result from sex with a partner who has one. Yeast infections are both treatable and preventable.

A Word From Verywell

Yeast infections can be uncomfortable and distressing. Thankfully, they are not STIs and are easily treated. Yeast infections can be prevented by avoiding triggers and maintaining good hygiene. This includes good hygiene after sex, since sexual activity can change the microbiological environment and lead to a fungal infection. If you are unsure if you have a yeast infection, talk to your healthcare provider. There are several OTC and prescription treatments available.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should you wait to have sex after a yeast infection?

    It is best to avoid sex until a yeast infection is completely healed, which usually means a few days after treatment completion when your symptoms have resolved. Continued sexual activity while having a yeast infection can prolong the duration of symptoms and lead to more irritation of the area. Having sex with a yeast infection is likely to be uncomfortable.

  • How fast does yeast infection treatment work?

    The duration of treatment and the time to symptom resolution depends on the severity of the yeast infection. A mild infection usually responds to treatment in about one to three days. In contrast, a more severe yeast infection may take a few days longer to improve.

  • What are other causes of yeast infections?

    Most healthy people do not have identifiable reasons for having a yeast infection. However, fungal infections are more common in people with:

    Candida albicans is the most common fungus that causes yeast infections. Other Candida species can lead to recurrent yeast infections, but this is much less common.

  • Why does a yeast infection itch?

    A yeast infection is an infection of the skin that causes inflammation in a specific area. Inflammatory skin reactions irritate the sensory nerves and transmit signals to the brain that tell the person they have an itch. Several different skin infections and problems itch, and a yeast infection is one of them.

Was this page helpful?
9 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.
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections. Updated April 1, 2019.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Yeast infections. Updated October 26, 2019.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). Updated July 22, 2021.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Balanitis. Updated November 4, 2019.

  5. MedlinePlus. Candida infection of the skin. Updated October 8, 2021.

  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections. Updated April 1, 2019.

  7. Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials. Can I have sex when I have a yeast infection? Updated November 13, 2020.

  8. Sobel JD. Factors involved in patient choice of oral or vaginal treatment for vulvovaginal candidiasisPatient Prefer Adherence. 2013;8:31-34. doi:10.2147/PPA.S38984

  9. Garibyan L, Rheingold CG, Lerner EA. Understanding the pathophysiology of itchDermatol Ther. 2013;26(2):84-91. doi:10.1111/dth.12025