- Consequences of an Untreated Yeast Infection?
- What Happens If You Don’t Take Care of a Yeast Infection?
- Causes of Yeast Infection
- Symptoms of Yeast Infections
- Rare Side Effects of Yeast Infection
- Is it okay to ‘tough out’ a yeast infection?
- How long does a yeast infection take to go away?
- Yeast Infections and Sex: What Men and Women Need to Know
- Women, Yeast Infections, and Sexual Activity
- HIV and Vaginal Yeast Infections
- Vaginal Yeast Infections and Safe Sex
- Men, Yeast Infections, and Sexual Activity
- Yeast Infection Myths and Misconceptions
- Here are some yeast infection myths and misconceptions regarding treatment and prevention.
Consequences of an Untreated Yeast Infection?
Q1. I have had only one previous yeast infection. I think I might have another one now, but the symptoms could also be happening because I’m getting my period. If it is a yeast infection, what will happen if it goes untreated? What are the consequences of this?
— Vanessa, Massachusetts
Untreated yeast infections do not have long-term consequences, such as infertility or scarring. They tend to be uncomfortable, and can cause discharge and burning, but they do not cause permanent damage.
However, if you are trying to become pregnant and have an active infection, it should be treated because it can delay or prevent pregnancy. The reason for this is not clear, but because a yeast infection affects the pH of the vaginal secretions, it may make the vagina unfriendly to sperm.
Q2. I have a vaginal yeast infection and am wondering whether I can still use my spa? What about a swimming pool? Can I pass the infection on this way? What do you suggest?
It is safe to use your spa or a swimming pool while you have a yeast infection. The infection is not contagious in this way — it can only be passed through sexual contact. The contagion rate is actually so low that even with sexual contact, a person is not particularly likely to become infected.
The main precaution you should take is to keep the vaginal area as dry as possible once you leave the pool or spa, since yeast (also known as fungus) grows best in a moist environment. Be sure to dry off well, change out of a wet bathing suit right away, and use a drying agent, such as talcum powder, to stay dry if you perspire heavily.
Q3. My urine has a yeast-like odor. I have treated the odor with yeast infection over-the-counter drugs and it will go away for a few days, then return. I do not have any pain or itching, just this strange odor. Could a yeast infection really present itself this way?
— Trilby, Ohio
Fungal infections of the urine are uncommon. Most urinary tract infections are due to bacteria, and the presence of a urinary yeast infection often implies an underlying abnormality, such as diabetes, a foreign body within the urinary tract, or prolonged antibiotic use with antibacterial medications. Urinary yeast infections do not necessarily have a characteristic odor, and it is important to determine whether or not you have an active infection. It is unlikely that the only symptom of an active yeast infection in the urinary tract would be malodor. Nevertheless, men and women can sometimes have asymptomatic colonization of the urinary tract with either bacteria or yeast (fungus). Urine cultures are effective at identifying both bacterial and fungal causes of infection. Another possibility is that the patient has a vaginal or genital skin yeast infection that is causing the characteristic odor.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Yeast Infection Center.
What Happens If You Don’t Take Care of a Yeast Infection?
Before we begin an extensive discussion on what happens when a yeast infection is left untreated, it is important to understand what a yeast infection is and what the symptoms of such infections are.
A yeast infection is also known as candida and is an infection that happens in the vagina, mouth or skin in which there is rapid and uncontrollable growth of yeast. The yeast infection that happens in the vagina is called vaginitis, while a yeast infection in the mouth is known by the name thrush. A yeast infection that occurs on the skin is called intertrigo or tinea versicolor. When the yeast infection takes place in the vagina, there can be seen a white creamy discharge, resembling cottage cheese from the vagina and vaginal itching. When yeast infection takes place in the mouth, there are small white patches on the tongue and the insides of the cheek are. On the other hand, yeast infection taking place in the skin are represented by white patches on the skin that are irritable and itchy. Yeast infections can actually be treated through over the counter drugs or even using home remedies like eating yogurt. If the case gets too severe, it’s best to consult a gynecologist.
Causes of Yeast Infection
Yeast is a type of fungus, and yeast infection takes place when there is an overgrown of this type of fungus. This infection may also be termed as candida vaginitis or even vulvovaginal candidiasis. The most important and popular fungus causing yeast infection is the fungus called Candida albicans. Though this is the most common fungus associated with yeast infection, some other fungus that causes yeast infections are mainly from other Candida species like C. glabrata, C.parapsilosis, C. tropicalis and C. krusei.
It has been found in an empirical study, that around and up to 75 percentages of women will get a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives at least once. Further, around 40% to 50% women will get it at least more than once in a lifetime. This study was conducted and published in The Lancet. To further explain the frequency, almost 4% to 8% women experience what is called a recurrent or chronic yeast infection, when the yeast infection occurs almost four to five times in one single year.
Men, can in fact, also get yeast infection in their mouth, genitals or other regions of the skin. Most infections need a maximum of 3 to 4 days to heal. However, if they persist for over a week, it is advised to see the doctor immediately, in case of something severe.
The Candida virus causes the infection when some events are such that affect the balance between the microorganisms that live in or on your body. Such events may be:
- Medications like birth control pill, steroids and antibiotics.
- Disease that harm the immune system like HIV
- Chronic diseases like diabetes
- Excess stress
- Lack of sleep as it suppresses the immune system.
Besides these, there are also certain habits that are incorporated in our lifestyles, which may also promote the growth of Candida fungus. Such lifestyle habits are:
- Consuming a diet that is rich in sugar. This happens as the yeast feed on sugar.
- Using in excess bubble bath, feminine genital washes and scented soaps.
- Usage of IUDs.
- Maintaining a vaginal health that is poor and unhygienic.
- Wearing such clothes that keep the vaginal area warm and moist like synthetic underwear and pajama bottoms.
- Wearing tight jeans or spandex.
Symptoms of Yeast Infections
In order to understand whether one has actually has a yeast infection, it is important to be aware of the following signs and symptoms of yeast infection:
- Itching in the vaginal area, especially near the vulva which is the opening of the vagina.
- A burning sensation in the vaginal area.
- Swelling in the vaginal area, especially near the vulva
- A white or grayish vaginal discharge that might look like cottage cheese.
- A burning sensation while urinating.
- An intense pain during vaginal intercourse.
Most yeast infections do not produce any strong and indicative odor. A strong fishy smell in the vagina may be accompanied when the vagina is affected by a bacterial growth of the bacteria Candida albicans.
Most people who do not have adequate financial backing may find it more convenient to keep a yeast infection untreated. However, a yeast infection does not heal or even get better only by itself. It needs some medical intervention. Waiting for the yeast infection to heal by itself, is simply being ignorant and it shall lead to nothing favorable. A yeast infection does not get better with time, it usually just deteriorates. The itching and burning sensation that is so commonly associated with yeast infection only becomes more severe if ignored. The itching in the vagina or even in the skin simply worsens and the itching becomes way more severe. The patchy areas in the mouth caused by yeast infections become larger and more widespread. Dr. Orli R. Etingen who is a professor in the field of gynecology in New York Weill Cornell Medical Center has however stated that untreated yeast infections may not eventually lead to infertility and scarring, but it is definitely better to get it checked.
However, in case of a pregnant woman or a woman trying to become pregnancy, it is of immediate urgency that the yeast infection be treated as soon as possible, as an untreated pregnancy may come the way of getting pregnant and cause further complications. An untreated yeast infection is absolutely irritable as the vaginal area remains itchy and may also seem visually unpleasant. Besides these, the yeast infection cuts down on the immunity system and strength of the body. When the body is constantly trying to fight the yeast infection, it lacks the immunity to fight against any other microorganism that may be harming you simultaneously.
A more detailed discussion of the harmful effects of an untreated yeast infection is given below:
Yeast Infection Affects the Immunity System: Some yeast that grows on our body is in fact important for the normal functioning of the body. Yeast infections, however are not desirable, they are caused when too much yeast is present at a certain part of the body, which is usually the vaginal area. Yeast is, in fact, opportunistic microorganisms that thrive in damp areas. So, it is very important that such grooming measures are taken up from a young age that will primarily rid these conditions. There are of course certain natural hacks that exist that help a woman to avoid getting infected and have an infection free vagina. Yeast infections that are kept untreated may lead to lowered immunity that will prevent and help fighting other health conditions. If the yeast infection in at all left untreated, it may spread to other areas. The lowered immunity levels makes the body way more vulnerable to other infections and attacks by other microorganisms, making the body weak and susceptible to many hazards. This is a primary reason why you must always report a case of yeast infection and consult a physician immediately after you get a sign of a yeast infection. If the yeast infection is actually kept untreated, it will lead to severe itching and burning to such an extent that it will even be impossible to urinate without any bodily sensations of pain and burning.
Yeast Infection at the Time of Menstruation: For those who experienced the yeast infection while on their menstrual cycle, are at a huge risk of the infection spreading into the intestines. This is a severe hazard and a very uncomfortable sensation. If this actually takes place, it can lead to several health problems, generally associated to the anal region. If the infection actually does travel up to the intestines, it may lead to irritable bowel movement, diarrhea, bloating in the lower regions of the body as well as other uncomfortable symptoms.
Yeast Infection and Conception: A yeast infection at the time of conception or in a time when a couple is trying to conceive a child, a yeast infection that has been left untreated, may cause immense complications in the process of successful fertilization. The presence of the yeast in the vaginal area may cause an environment that is not suitable for the sperm to live. The PH levels are also harmfully affected by a yeast infection, which may again lead to further problems.
Yeast Infection may at sometimes disappear on its own. Though it has been found that yeast infections do not generally heal by themselves, it is possible that the yeast infection will heal when the yeast have run courses all over in the body. But an untreated yeast infection can make a woman’s life miserable and very difficult because of all the side effects that are related to having a yeast infection. When a woman has an yeast infection that has been completely left untreated, it may lead to constant itching, a painful burning sensation, difficulty even while urinating and it may also be a reason which will make it impossible for you to have a healthy and pleasurable sexual life. Sexual intimacy when the yeast infection is active is not exactly something that most people enjoy.
There are a number of home remedies that are available to combat yeast infection, with such readily available means to get rid of the pain and the uncomfortable sensation, there is no reason why one should put up with such an undesirable and irritable condition. It is in fact, best to get it treated as soon as possible.
When the Yeast infection is kept untreated, there is a high chance that the infection will lapse over time. It may just so happen that the yeast infection may come back in later dates. This can actually turn into a chronic condition, called chronic yeast infection which will lead to even worse conditions. If the yeast infection becomes chronic, they will be recurring in character which is likely to cause huge inconvenience and a lot of pain in the future. This is the reason, why an yeast infection should not be kept untreated at all. It is rather better to feel embarrassed for a short while that to keep up with such suffering caused by a constant burning and itching sensation, regularly throughout life. This, like any other infection should not be considered a source of embarrassment. It is an abnormal condition of the body that should not make one anxious or awkward.
Rare Side Effects of Yeast Infection
Though rarely, but yeast infections may even have certain side effects if left untreated. Such side-effects include headaches, mood swings, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and problems in the mouth or anal canal like sores and blisters.
The other most important reason why an yeast infection should be treated immediately is because, what is being considered as yeast infection, might not be an yeast infection. At some times, the symptoms of an yeast infection does mimic the conditions that are felt during other diseases.
It should be kept in mind that women are not exclusively affected by a yeast infection. It can happen to man or a woman at any time. However, women have a higher susceptibility to getting a yeast infection. It is advisable, that if one in a pair has been affected by a yeast infection, the best is to get the partner tested and treated for yeast infection. Fortunately, yeast infections are actually easy to not only prevent but also cure using basic home ingredients only.
It is hence stated that whenever the symptoms of a yeast infection seem to be felt, it is best to go a visit a doctor. Although there are several home remedies that are natural and are good to provide care against yeast infections, however, it is best to get it tested and checked by a doctor who will be able to assess the severity of the infection and treat the infarction in such a way that they don’t recur too often.
- Ways to Prevent Yeast Infection
- How Long Does Yeast Infection Last & How to Get Rid of It?
- Can Trichomoniasis be Caused by Yeast Infection?
Is it okay to ‘tough out’ a yeast infection?
First things first, unfortunately, almost all women will experience at least one yeast infection (genital candidiasis) — an infection caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida — at some point in life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 75 percent of women are likely to contract one yeast infection in their lifetime, with up to 45 percent of women experiencing recurring ones. Menopausal women are the group most prone to yeast infections, but they can affect anyone.
“Is this illness actually a yeast infection?”
“This is the question women need to ask when symptoms first present,” said Patricia Sulak, M.D., a board certified OB/GYN and professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “Many women think itching and burning in the vaginal area only signals a yeast infection, but this is not true. These symptoms are indicative of a variety of conditions, including genital herpes.”
Sulak added irritation of the genital area can also manifest as yeast infection symptoms. “You could have itching and redness from shaving, or from chemical irritation. There really is no reason to use scented bath products or put perfumes and powders in the genital area,” she said. “All of these things will cause undesirable and unwanted symptoms in your sensitive nether region.”
So, how’s a girl to know the difference between a yeast infection or something else? The most common symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:
- Burning, redness, itching and swelling of the vagina and vulva
- Thick, white vaginal discharge similar to cottage cheese that does not have an odor
- Pain during intercourse or urination
Luckily, there’s a pretty quick solution for women who suffer from first-time yeast infections and exacerbated yeast infections that don’t respond to topical treatment. “The good news about yeast infections is that they are always treatable,” Sulak said. “For women who get chronic yeast infections, oral prescription medications are extremely effective. Studies have shown patients who took prescription yeast infection tablets once a week for several months treated the condition faster. When you need long-term maintenance therapy for yeast infections, this tablet is the only answer. Over-the-counter medications won’t provide the same result.”
While there are many options available OTC to treat yeast infections, Sulak cautioned against using them for a first-time vaginal infection. “Any woman who experiences discomfort and abnormal symptoms in the vaginal area should always consult her health care provider,” she said. “Again, this is imperative because yeast infection symptoms are extremely similar to symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.”
You can buy non-prescription yeast infection medications at your local pharmacy in the form of anti-fungal creams, tablets, ointments or suppositories you insert into the vagina. Application methods and length of treatment will depend on the brand you choose. If you suffer from recurring yeast infections a few times a year, it’s probably OK to use these over-the-counter medications as treatment — but you should still talk to your health care provider just to be safe.
“You should always check these products to ensure they are actually an anti-fungal and will successfully treat and resolve the infection,” Sulak said. “Millions of dollars are spent every year on OTC products that have no anti-yeast medication and claim they treat yeast infections. Instead, some of these medications only contain a local antiesthetic to alleviate certain symptoms like burning.”
The good news is when a yeast infection flares up, you’re not at risk for any other health conditions. “The worst thing that can happen when you don’t immediately treat a yeast infection is it develops into a really bad yeast infection,” Sulak said. “When the yeast becomes embedded in the skin, it can cause redness and inflammation in the entire genital area. These infections may take weeks to completely treat.”
Important to note, if symptoms continue despite the use of OTC anti-fungal products, it’s time to make an appointment with your physician. “If you use over-the-counter medication and your symptoms abate, that’s great,” Sulak said. “But, if they keep recurring, you need to get checked out. The bottom line is, if your symptoms don’t go away, you need to be seen.”
How long does a yeast infection take to go away?
Many women choose to use home remedies to treat mild to moderate yeast infections.
Science has not backed all home remedies, but recent studies have medically tested the following methods:
Tea tree oil
Share on PinterestTea tree oil may be an effective home remedy.
Tea tree oil is another promising home remedy for yeast infections. A 2015 study found that tea tree oil is effective in fighting off all types of Candida fungus.
To use tea tree oil for a yeast infection, pour a few drops across the top and sides of a tampon and insert the tampon into the vagina. Leave in place for a few hours and then remove.
While tea tree oil may be effective, it may not be as fast-acting as over-the-counter options.
Tea tree oil is available for purchase online.
The topical or internal application of yogurt is an effective home treatment for yeast infections.
Natural yogurt contains healthful bacteria called Lactobacillus. These bacteria produce hydrogen peroxide that kills the excess Candida.
A 2015 study found that yogurt might be more effective than clotrimazole (Canesten), an antifungal cream.
Using a yogurt without any added sugar is essential. Sugar can cause Candida to multiply more, making the infection worse.
Plain, natural yogurt can be smoothed onto the surface of the vagina or applied internally.
Some women find inserting an unused tampon applicator filled with yogurt works well. Freezing it first may bring additional cooling relief. Others simply use their fingers to apply the yogurt.
While yogurt may be effective, it may not be as fast acting as antifungal treatments.
Boric acid is another home remedy for yeast infections that some research suggests is effective.
A 2011 research review found boric acid to be a safe alternative remedy for yeast infections.
Boric acid suppositories are available for purchase in pharmacies and online. People can also make their own by putting no more than 600 milligrams of boric acid into a clean gel capsule.
Boric acid suppositories can sometimes cause side effects, including vaginal burning and discharge.
This treatment can be repeated once a day until the infection clears. It is not suitable for women who are pregnant.
Photo: Steve Lupton/Corbis
Women come to Dr. Jen Gunter’s vaginitis clinic in San Francisco and tell her they haven’t eaten cake or chocolate in two years because they think it will make their recurrent yeast infections worse. Others believe gluten is the culprit (“the whipping boy,” she says), while some think sex is partially to blame. Meanwhile, many of them have been using over-the-counter yeast infection treatments as well as douching and overwashing, all of which could lead to more itching and irritation in the long run. Gunter, a gynecologist and the director of pelvic pain and vulvovaginal disorders at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, says true recurrent yeast infections, defined as four or more per year, are pretty rare — only 5 to 8 percent of women have them, though they’re more common among people with diabetes. But she says she sees patients every week who swear they have them and are desperate for relief.
“The problem is that women in the United States have become encultured to believe that any bothersome vaginal symptom is a yeast infection and they automatically go to treat that, when it’s not,” she says.
The main symptoms of a yeast infection are vaginal itching and burning, though women can also have a thick, white discharge. But, fun fact: Some women have discharge like that normally (sans itch) and think it’s a yeast infection, so they run to the drugstore. Other women are really experiencing irritation on their vulva, which is the vaginal opening and lips. It’s no surprise, then, that Dr. Gunter says only a quarter to a third of women correctly self-diagnose a yeast infection and by constantly treating it they could make thing worse for their nether regions.
The vulva and vagina are very sensitive thanks to lots of nerve endings. Certain products and habits can irritate them and lead to itching and discomfort that women might confuse with a yeaster, says Dr. Gunter, who’s also a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Chief among them are: douching and overwashing, removal of pubic hair either via waxing or shaving, benzocaine found in anti-itch creams like Vagisil, condoms with spermicide, and gel- or water-based lubes, which can irritate some people. (Nervous reader alert: If you don’t have problems, there’s no reason to stop doing or using any of these things, she says.)
Then there are conditions that can cause similar symptoms, including bacterial vaginosis, an imbalance in bacteria that can lead to discharge; trichomoniasis and herpes, STDs; vulvodynia, a nerve disorder; post-menopausal vaginal atrophy; and lichen simplex chronicus, a skin condition caused by scratching that can cause an eczemalike reaction on the vulva. “It’s really challenging because sometimes the symptoms are all similar whether it’s a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis or even a urinary tract infection,” she says. This slew of potential causes can be frustrating for patients who feel increasingly desperate.
It’s both a blessing and a curse that there are treatments for yeast infections available over the counter. They’re convenient, but if you don’t have a yeast infection they may not give you relief, and, if you use them too much, you could kill off good bacteria and end up with even more yeast overgrowth. Some women just get a particularly virulent strain of yeast and that’s why they get the infection, but others have issues with the gatekeeper bacteria called lactobacilli that control the vaginal ecosystem (yes, that’s a thing). If those bacteria don’t work well, or get killed by repetitive use of anti-fungal creams — or even antibiotics for bad colds that you think are sinus infections — that can allow yeast to grow out of control. Cure, meet disease.
Vaginal itching won’t kill you, but it can definitely ruin your day. Or week. Or month. “It’s really sad because people are kind of marginalized, like, ‘Oh, it’s just a yeast infection,’ but it can really consume a lot of people’s lives,” says Dr. Gunter. So what should you do about it?
Dr. Gunter says that if your symptoms are itch-predominant and internal, not way out on the skin, and you haven’t done anything different like used a new soap or new kind of condom, you can certainly try an over-the-counter treatment. But the crucial thing is what happens after you finish the dose. “If you’re not better, you don’t assume it’s a yeast infection that didn’t get treated. You assume you made the wrong diagnosis,” Dr. Gunter says.
Those medicines are effective almost 90 percent of the time, and the chance you had the wrong diagnosis is greater than the chance that the treatment didn’t work. So don’t call your doctor and ask for a diflucan, which is the oral version of the treatment. This is a mistake she sees a lot, and it can lead to unintended consequences. “When you take an oral medicine, it’s not just killing yeast in your vagina, it’s killing yeast in your bowel and you need yeast in your bowel, it’s part of your normal flora,” she says. She’s not opposed to using the oral as a first-line treatment — it’s a matter of personal preference — but it’s not a solution if Monistat’s not working.
If an OTC treatment didn’t work (or you’re unsure you have a yeast infection in the first place), ask your gyno for a yeast culture. Since symptoms of a yeast infection can vary, doctors treat yeast cultures as the gold standard. The results come back within 48 to 72 hours and they’re highly accurate. “If you don’t have a positive yeast culture, you don’t have a yeast infection,” she says. Once you know that, you and your doctor can move on to other possible causes.
For any woman with yeast-infection-like symptoms, she recommends taking a good old antihistamine like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra, which will reduce inflammation and can help give you relief while you’re waiting for medicine to do its thing, or for lab results to come back. A topical steroid like one percent hydrocortisone applied around the vaginal opening can also help relieve itching, she says.
As for the women who tell Dr. Gunter that they’ve changed their diet over this, she offers them some nonmedical advice. “Sometimes I’ll say to them, ‘Leave here and go buy chocolate, please.’ Like, enjoy yourself. You’ve been doing this for years and you’re not better. But people are desperate and when people are desperate they don’t think straight and it just breaks my heart.” A doctor who prescribes chocolate: Sign us up.
Yeast Infections and Sex: What Men and Women Need to Know
Sexual intercourse may interfere with yeast infection treatment, and condoms may be damaged by yeast infection medication.
Having sex with a vaginal yeast infection can be complicated. Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy
Yeast infections are not considered sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because most yeast infections are not transmitted person to person and they can occur in people who have never had sex.
Indeed, most of the time yeast infections develop because of factors that throw off the microbial balance of the body — such as hormonal changes and antibiotic use — and allow Candida yeasts to grow out of control, causing infection.
Women, Yeast Infections, and Sexual Activity
But yeast infections can share many of the same symptoms as some STIs or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as vaginal itching, burning, pain, and discharge. (1)
Given the prevalence of STDs and yeast infections, it’s not unreasonable for a woman to wonder if a yeast infection may increase her risk of other vaginal infections.
For the most part, yeast infections aren’t associated with the development of an STD. But by scratching to relieve vaginal itching, you may inadvertently create microscopic tears in the skin that allow bacteria or viruses that cause STDs to enter your body more easily. (2)
HIV and Vaginal Yeast Infections
Though yeast infections aren’t typically associated with STDs, they do have a well-known connection to HIV/AIDS, an STD that is often spread through sexual activity. HIV/AIDS can also be transmitted through direct contact of bodily fluids with an open wound or a tear in the skin and dirty needles.
HIV is a known risk factor for yeast infections — it suppresses the immune system, allowing opportunistic infections to take root. Some studies suggest that about 50 to 70 percent of women with HIV develop vaginal yeast infections at some point in their lives.
Research also suggests that the connection works the other way around: vaginal yeast infections increase a woman’s risk of getting HIV. (3)
In a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, researchers looked at women who were not HIV positive but who were in a sexual relationship with someone who was.
They found that the women who eventually contracted HIV were significantly more likely to have had yeast infections.
They concluded that women in high-risk relationships should receive regular gynecological evaluation and be taught how to prevent yeast infections — and to treat them quickly when they do occur — to decrease their risk of HIV infection. (4)
Since yeast infections can irritate the vaginal lining even if you haven’t been scratching, it’s a good idea to use condoms if you plan to be sexually active while you have a yeast infection and don’t know the HIV status of your partner.
Of course, this is standard advice even when you don’t have a yeast infection.
Vaginal Yeast Infections and Safe Sex
Generally, it’s recommended to wait to have sex until after your infection clears — which typically only takes one to seven days with antifungal medications. (5)
If you’re considering having sex while you have a vaginal yeast infection, it’s important to first consider the risks.
For one thing, the vaginal itching and burning associated with yeast infections may make sex uncomfortable or painful and increase vaginal burning and inflammation. (6)
Additionally, the friction involved with penetrative sex can cause tiny tears in the vagina, making you more susceptible to STDs.
Another thing that might hinder you from having sex is the yeast infection treatment method you’re using.
If you’re using creams to treat your vaginal yeast infection, it’s best to delay intercourse until the therapy is complete, as sex can essentially push the medication out of the vagina. (7)
What’s more, some medications contain oils that can break down condoms. (2)
In general, yeast infections aren’t frequently spread from one partner to another during sex.
Even so, there are situations where it does happen. (8)
Men, Yeast Infections, and Sexual Activity
It’s possible for men to get a yeast infection from a sex partner who also has an infection.
The risk of men getting a yeast infection through sex is low, but up to 15 percent of men may get an uncomfortable rash on their penis if they have unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection.
The rate seems to be highest among men who are not circumcised and men with diabetes. (8)
In lesbian relationships, it’s possible that yeast infections may be spread from one partner to another through oral sex, although the issue has not yet been studied extensively.
In a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, researchers found that women were more likely to get repeat yeast infections if they recently engaged in cunnilingus (oral sex involving the vagina) or masturbated with saliva (theirs or their partner’s), though the study focused on heterosexual couples. (9)
If your partner (male or female) begins to experience any signs of a yeast infection, such as itching, burning, redness, or discharge, he or she should see a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment.
Although yeast infections aren’t dangerous for most people, they can cause discomfort such as vaginal itching and burning.
Decisions regarding sexual activity during a yeast infection ultimately depend on what you and your partner feel most comfortable doing.
Yeast Infection Myths and Misconceptions
When it comes to dealing with intimate health issues like yeast infections, young women are relying on advice that’s plain wrong – and even harmful.
More than half – 53% – of young women say they don’t know how to deal with a yeast infection, and two out of three women (66%) don’t know it can be cured with an over-the-counter treatment. With all the information out there, finding the right answers can be confusing and overwhelming.
Here are some yeast infection myths and misconceptions regarding treatment and prevention.
In some circles, garlic is revered for its detoxifying qualities. For those that subscribe to garlic’s medicinal use, they believe it can be used to treat yeast infections by inserting it into the vagina. In reality, inserting any foreign object in the vagina may cause further complications or even worsen an infection. There is no scientific proof that garlic can cure a yeast infection, so don’t put yourself at risk.
External Vaginal Itch Creams
A common misconception is that vaginal itch creams can treat yeast infections. Many women who use these products intending to treat a yeast infection soon discover the products’ shortcomings. While they may temporarily relieve the symptoms of your infection, they will not cure it.
Now, let’s clear up some misconceptions about what causes yeast infections.
Vaginal yeast infections are not usually spread by having sex. However, if you have a yeast infection, you should avoid sexual activity until the infection is gone. Sexual intercourse can be painful and increase vaginal burning and inflammation.
Damp or tight-fitting clothing can create an ideal environment for yeast to overgrow. You won’t get a yeast infection just because you went swimming and it’s not contagious, so you won’t catch it from being in the pool with someone who does. Just make sure you change into clean, dry underwear and clothing when you’re through swimming, working out or doing any strenuous activity.
Using a Laptop
The heat generated from some laptops can cause you to perspire while it rests on your lap and damp areas are ideal environments for the overgrowth of yeast. But it is a yeast infection myth that regularly using a laptop would put you at increased risk for developing a yeast infection – just be sure to keep your vaginal area dry.
What actually causes yeast infections?
A yeast infection (candidiasis) is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that normally lives in the vagina. Here are a few reasons why you may get a yeast infection:
- Antibiotics — Antibiotics and other drugs can trigger a yeast infection by suppressing some of the “good” bacteria that helps keep the yeast fungus under control. Learn more here, and do not stop taking antibiotics without first asking your doctor.
- Hormones — Pregnancy, menstruation and estrogen fluctuations can trigger a yeast infection. If you’re pregnant or think you’re pregnant, make sure to speak with your doctor before using any products to treat your symptoms.
- Diabetes — If your diabetes is not well controlled, you have a greater chance of getting yeast infections. Find out how high blood sugar can lead to a Candida infection.
- A weakened immune system – Yeast naturally exists in the vagina and a healthy immune system works to keep this yeast balanced. If you have a weakened immune system, you may be susceptible to yeast infections along with other infections.
- Certain Cancer Treatments – Yeast infections can be a common side effect of some cancer treatments.
Here are some simple things that have been associated with helping prevent yeast infections:
- Avoid scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads, and tampons
- Change tampons and pads often during your period
- Avoid tight underwear or clothes made of synthetic fibers
- Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch
- Change out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as you can
If this is your first yeast infection or you have special circumstances like diabetes, pregnancy, or recurrent infections, it’s important for you to talk to your healthcare professional before you decide on a treatment. That way, he or she can guide you regarding your vaginal health, give you a proper diagnosis, and help you choose the most appropriate treatment. If you’re unsure of what to ask or are uncomfortable speaking with your doctor regarding yeast infection concerns, download our Doctor Discussion Guide to help start the conversation.