Yeast Infections: Not Just a Woman's Problem
Though more typically thought of as a female issue, men can also acquire yeast infections. Both oral yeast infections (called thrush) that contaminate the mouth and genital yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans—the most common form of yeast that grows normally in the body.
Men can—and do—occasionally contract yeast infections from having intercourse with a yeast-infected woman. Using a condom can diminish the chances of becoming infected. Other causes of male yeast infection include:
- The Overuse of Antibiotics. These drugs can diminish the bacteria that normally control the yeast creating a perfect environment for the opportunistic yeast to flourish.
- Diabetes. Elevated sugar in the urine attracts yeast.
- Compromised Immune Systems. People with HIV, for example, have difficulty fighting off infections.
In women, yeast infections are fairly easy to detect. Symptoms include: vaginal itching, vaginal irritation, the telltale thick, white, curd-like discharge, redness cracking in the vulvar skin, burning during urination, pain during intercourse, and itching of the rectal opening.
In men, symptoms are less obvious or may be all together lacking. However, the New York Times reports some men experience a reddish, temporary rash on the genitals and a burning feeling at the tip of the penis. Dry, itchy skin on the penis and a white discharge has also been reported.
Since yeast infections are so common in women (over 70 percent develop at least one yeast infection during their lives) and over 40 percent have been infected multiple times, it's a good idea to be aware of the problem especially if you engage in unprotected sex. Yeast can be passed back and forth between partners, so avoiding sexual contact until all signs and symptoms of the infection are gone is generally recommended.
In addition to the culprits that cause the problem in men, women can get yeast infections from oral contraceptives, repeated intercourse over a short period of time, high carbohydrate intake especially from refined sugars and alcohol, wearing non-ventilating clothing in hot weather (synthetic fabric increases warmth and moisture fostering fungal growth), and irritants such as soap, powder, or new detergent.
The itchy, red bumps associated with genital herpes have also been known to be caused by yeast. A study published in the British Journal of Medicine (and posted on the National Institute of Health's website) found an association between genital yeast infections and STDs and advises patients with genital yeast infections—who are sexually active—to also be screened for other STDs. Meet with your medical provider to rule out sexually-transmitted diseases that are more serious if you suspect a problem.
Applying an over-the-counter antifungal treatment directly to the affected skin twice daily for a week is an effective treatment for male yeast infections which are a nuisance to deal with but aren't associated with any serious health risks.
The National Institutes of Health
Michigan State University
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