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Yeast Infections and Sexual Interaction
Introduction to Yeast infections and Sexual Relations
A yeast infection is not the first thing that most people think of when the question of sexually transmitted diseases comes up.
It doesn't even really count as an official STD since there are so many ways to get a yeast infection.
However, it can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, so it's important to know how, why, what to do about it and how to avoid them.
While yeast infections are certainly not the worst sexually transmitted disease in the world to get, they're never pleasant. Why volunteer for one?
How You Get A Yeast Infection through Sexual Intercourse
First off, the little fungi that yeast infections are made of, called Candida spores, are practically everywhere.
The mainstream medical community estimates that as much as 80% of the human race carries Candida around normally as part of the stuff you'll find in your intestines. It's also on skin, in the air, and just about anywhere else you can think of.
You and your sexual partner probably pass thousands of Candida yeasts back and forth to each other every day.
So, why don't you always have a yeast infection?
Under normal circumstances, it's a single-celled little thing that reproduces very slowly.
However, if conditions are right Candida will change reproductive tactics and go into an invasive multicellular form that creates the distinctive white plaques or discharge that are so characteristic of a yeast infection.
If one person has developed these multicellular Candida organisms, they find it much easier to invade someone else. They're already primed to invade, so to speak.
If one partner has recurring yeast infections and the other doesn't, one of two things may be going on.
Either the one with the yeast infection just keeps getting them because of an imbalance elsewhere or both are infected and one partner just isn't getting symptoms.
Candida infections can be completely without symptoms in either gender, although it's a bit more likely for men than for women.
It truly is impossible to tell which of those two options describes your particular case, so it's always safer to get both partners treated than for them to keep passing it back and forth to each other without knowing it.
Both forms of Candida will spread by any means they can get away with.
It can spread through clothing, through towels, through bedding and through fingertip touch if hands aren't washed well and on time.
Oxygen does not kill it, so if you touch your infected genitalia, don't wash your hands well enough and touch your own mouth, you can give yourself an oral yeast infection too.
Of course, the reverse is also true. If you touch your mouth when you have an oral yeast infection, fail to wash your hands and then touch your genitalia, you can give yourself a genital yeast infection instead.
The only reason it's not as contagious as the common cold is because you're usually not sneezing on people with a yeast infection, which is how colds usually travel.
Because of this high contagion vector and the fact that yeast infections can arise spontaneously in a person who's system is out of balance, a yeast infection is not proof of infidelity. A yeast infection isn't proof of anything other than an internal imbalance.
You can get a yeast infection because of a course of antibiotics, or irritation of the genitals, or even not getting enough sleep at night. You can't get a yeast infection through bread or alcohol, the yeast used to produce those items is a different species from the kind that give you yeast infections, but starches can feed yeast infections.
Too much starch or sugar in the blood can create the right conditions.
The Role of Sex - cunnilingus or fellatio - in spreading Yeast infections
Don't jump to conclusions about your partner because of a yeast infection.
Yeast infections can be spread through any form of sexual contact, including oral and anal sex.
If you perform cunnilingus or fellatio, you can develop a yeast infection in your mouth.
If you engage in anal sex, you can develop an anal yeast infection.
Condoms aren't much use against them because yeast infections can pass through skin contact, not just through sexual fluids.
How Bad Can a Yeast Infection from my Sexual Partner Be?
Ok, usually a yeast infection is not a big deal. It itches, it burns, it's miserable to live through but it's not going to kill you, unlike some STDs I could name.
However, if you don't treat it, a yeast infection can cause some nasty side effects, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or prostate problems.
While this isn't a danger for a yeast infection that gets cured, an untreated chronic yeast infection can start causing reproductive problems and maybe even scar tissue.
In addition, if by chance the yeast infection should go systemic, welcome to your intensive care unit. A systemic yeast infection can kill you.
Most people with healthy immune systems never have to worry about systemic candidemia, but do you really want to be the one in a million?
Treatment for and How to Treat A Sexually Transmitted Yeast Infection
If you or your partner should suffer from a yeast infection, get a doctor's diagnosis the first time to make sure that's really what it is.
A yeast infection in women can look and feel a lot like bacterial vaginosis or even simple vaginal irritation.
A case of bacterial vaginosis needs to be treated differently than a yeast infection, while medication can make vaginal irritation even worse.
If the doctor diagnoses a yeast infection in either one of you, both need to take the medication.
The doctor may tell you to use an over the counter product or may prescribe something.
Most people get their choice between a one day, three day or seven day course of antifungals.
Antifungal medication also comes as a cream or in an oral form like a tablet.
Once you know what a yeast infection really looks like in you, you can usually treat it on your own with over the counter products.
Women, follow the directions on the package.
Men, rub the dose into and around the rash if you have one, around the tip of the penis if you don't.
When I was in active practice as a pharmacy technician, I saw more than one prescription for an antifungal with a "one dose for partner as well" instruction on it. The partner didn't even have to go in or get his or her own prescription, it was right there on the script for the primary patient. We would fill it, one set for the person standing at our counter and one for "Partner" along with instructions to give the second dose to whomever they recently had a sexual relationship with.
I liked this system because it minimized the need to invade someone's private life.
However, speaking as a pharmacy technician, we don't really care what you did or with whom when you come in to get medication for a yeast infection, or any sexually transmitted disease for that matter.
We are not thinking "How much of a freak must YOU be?" We're thinking "How am I going to sort out that insurance medication claim?" or "I wonder if we should order more insulin syringes?" or even "How long till I get to go home already?"
We have better training and more compassion than to worry how you got a sexually transmitted disease.
We're mostly concerned with helping you get rid of it.
If someone does actively embarrass you, don't hesitate to complain to the pharmacist. They will be dealt with, probably harshly.
So please don't let embarrassment keep you from getting treatment.
Once you start the yeast infection treatment, avoid all sexual contact until the course of treatment is complete and the symptoms are all gone.
It is not ok to have intercourse, or sexual contact of any kind including with objects, with an active yeast infection in any stage of treatment.
In addition, wash sheets, towels, clothing, and anything that may have come in contact with the yeast infection promptly in water hot enough to kill off everything.
Change promptly after swimming or exercise, eat decently, sleep enough at night and try to de-stress as much as possible.
Wash hands regularly and at appropriate intervals.
Regular soap will work just fine, but proper handwashing goes on for at least twenty seconds.
Singing the ABC's or the birthday song to yourself is about right before rinsing.
Remember to turn the water on with a paper towel you throw away, you wouldn't want to pick the infection right back up off the faucet handle.
Preventing a Future Yeast Infection
Yeast infection prevention is often easier said than done.
The first step, of course, is to make sure that both of you are infection free.
After that, try and keep your body in balance with a decent lifestyle.
If you know you're prone to yeast infections, keep on top of your laundry. Check to make sure your detergent or shower soap isn't giving you problems.
Avoid tight fitting clothing and use loose cotton underwear. Lingerie may be fun, but put it on shortly before taking it off instead of wearing it as your normal underwear.
Eat a balanced diet, drink enough water, get enough sleep at night and sufficient exercise.
If you can identify the circumstances that cause yeast infections to attack, you can eliminate those circumstances and live without the fear of yeast infections coming back.
References used for this page on conceiving and pregnancy yeast infection
Vast amount of knowledge picked up being a CphT (Certified Pharmacy Technician) I had to go to college for it and I maintain my license through continuing education and biannual re-certification.
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Good luck from: Loni (Researcher and writer ) Donald (Editor and web master).
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