Concerned about partner's yeast infection

Dear Alice,

My girlfriend just saw her ob/gyn and was told that she has a mild yeast infection. Being that we are sexually active, is this something that I should be concerned about?

Dear Reader,

Great job on being a concerned partner! Yes, your partner’s yeast infection is something worth your attention. In regards to your partner’s health and well-being, a yeast infection is a relatively benign problem that can be extremely uncomfortable. Yeast (most commonly of the Candida albicans species) naturally reside in warm, moist areas, such as the vagina. However, under favorable conditions, yeast can begin to grow profusely, thus leading to a yeast infection. For example, yeast are prone to grown when the body's natural pH balance is upset.

It is possible to transfer yeast to a sexual partner. Until the yeast are gone, they can take up residence in your urethra and/or mouth and throat (in a healthy adult, oral yeast is very rare). You could then, in turn, pass the yeast back to your partner. An oral yeast infection is called thrush. It typically causes creamy colored sore patches in the mouth. You may also have a sore throat. Genitally, a male yeast infection may cause itching, dry skin, and burning when you pee.

Yeast infections usually clear up with topical antifungal treatment. You may think that using condoms or dams for sex can prevent sharing a yeast infection with your partner. However, it's best to delay sex until after treatment has been completed. For one thing, antifungal medications have been known to destroy latex condoms, and, likely, polyurethane ones as well. Sex also makes the inflammation worse. Alternatively, you may feel too sore from your infection to have sex anyway.

Again, kudos for checking in on your partner’s health. If you think you have a yeast infection, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a health care provider.

Last updated Jul 14, 2015
Originally published Oct 15, 1998

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