Sexual transmission of a yeast infection?

Originally Published: March 19, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 17, 2008
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Recently, my girlfriend had a yeast infection. She went to health services, and they gave her something to clear up the matter. But, the problem now is that I am noticing that my skin is extra dry and sometimes the skin develops signs of breakage. What could be the problem?

— Always Questioning

Dear Always Questioning,

Curiosity and seeking information is always a great way to learn. So, now let's move on to your question. Candida albicans and other forms of yeast grow in the vagina, rectum, and mouth. In a healthy vagina, the presence of some yeast may not be a problem. When a woman's system is out of balance, yeast-like organisms can grow profusely and cause a thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Other symptoms may include itching, burning, and irritation. Symptoms of yeast infection in men may include irritation, itching, and redness, although many men won't have any symptoms at all.

Yeast may be transferred from partner to partner during unprotected sex. If you were having sex without a condom or dam before your girlfriend was diagnosed, or while she was taking the medication, you may have gotten a yeast infection. However, your symptoms could also be signs of another infection, a reaction to a topical yeast medication your girlfriend might have been using, or something completely unrelated. It's a good idea to see by your health care provider to get an accurate diagnosis.

If you're diagnosed with a yeast infection, be aware that you could pass it back and forth between you and your partner. To minimize this possibility, consider avoiding sex, or using a condom or dam, until both of you complete treatment. Keep in mind, though, that latex barriers can be broken down by oil-based topical remedies like creams and suppositories. If your girlfriend is using this kind of medication, you may want to wait until the treatment is over to have sex — this is your best option for preventing re-infection.

If you're at Columbia, you can make an appointment to see a health care provider at Primary Care Medical Services by calling x4-2284 or logging into Open Communicator. There are health care providers there who see both women and men and who specialize in STIs and other common genital health problems. Outside of Columbia, see your health care provider or your school's health services.