YEAST INFECTIONS IN MEN
Yes, it's true, men can get yeast infections too. and not just thrush, the oral yeast infection that is common in men who are immune compromised. Men can get penile yeast infections, and although i've never had one myself, I hear it's not pleasant. Not only that, but heterosexual couples who have unprotected sex can pass yeast infections back and forth endlessly, so it seems like it might be a good idea to learn more about male yeast infections and get your boy cleaned up if there's reason to suspect he has a yeast infection of his own.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot of information available about penile yeast infections. I am working to update this page, based on the many emails i've received from helpful men. In the meantime, here's the scoop.
Men get yeast infections for the same reasons that wimmin do, although the likelihoods are different. The main causes of penile yeast infections are listed below.
- SEXUAL TRANSMISSION: Candida can be transmitted between people by direct contact, and so can be considered a sexually-transmitted disease. A yeast-infected woman who has unprotected sex with a man can infect her lover, treat her own infection, and then get reinfected next time she has sex with him. If you or your lover has an active infection you should be extra-careful to follow safer sex guidelines until you are sure both of you are infection-free. During an infection or while being treated, refrain from vaginal intercourse, wash your hands or change your gloves in between touching your own crotch and your partner's, and keep those sex toys really really clean.
- ANTIOBIOTICS: Although far less common than sexual transmission, the other main cause of penile yeast infection is prolonged antibiotic use. The male body has a standard contingent of creatures that inhabit the crotch, and antibiotics can rid the body of the good ones, allowing the normally-occurring yeast to take over.
- DIABETES: Men with diabetes are more susceptible to yeast infections, presumably because the elevated sugar in the urine makes for yummy yeast food. If you have frequent yeast infections and have other symptoms of diabetes, like you're always thirsty and you have to urinate often, definitely go see a doctor.
- NONOXYNOL-9: Although it's not at all the same problem, this seems like as good a place as any to warn you that i've seen occasional rumors in gay magazines saying that condoms with nonoxynol-9 added to the lubricant may contribute to anal yeast infections. This is very plausible given that we know it can cause vaginal yeast infections. If this is a problem for you, try using a condom that doesn't have a spermicidal lubricant.
It's tricky to tell when men have yeast infections, because they can have a penile yeast infection without having symptoms. When they do have symptoms, it can be really awful; i was once told by an infected man that he "wished it would just fall right off." Here are some signs of the dreaded penile yeast infection:
The most common symptom is irritation and soreness of the head of the penis. Apparently it can itch like crazy, too.
Yeah, men can get a discharge, including that clumpy nasty white stuff. Also, the head of the penis may turn reddish or get little blistery things.
I haven't heard of it smelling like anything, but if you can smell yeast, you better bet you should get your boy some treatment.
NOTE: According to the emails I get, the symptoms can be perilously close to those of genital herpes: little red itchy bumps are not uncommon with penile yeast infections. If you aren't absolutely certain, go see a doctor for testing and diagnosis.
A while ago, i received an email from a gentleman who, on the advice of a doctor, had tried using an over-the-counter vaginal cream (Monistat) to treat his penile yeast infection. I guess he just rubbed the stuff on the outside of his penis. Anyway, he said that it didn't work at all until he added a few drops of white vinegar to it to a small blob of cream, and then it worked overnight.
He also warned against applying straight vinegar, which he said "eats right through the skin". 'Nuff said.
Since posting that suggestion, I've received quite a few emails from people whose doctors have recommended applying Monistat directly to the surface of the penis to cure yeast infections. Most say it works fine. So hey, I guess you can go ahead and try it, and if it doesn't start to work in a day or two, try adding a little vinegar. What do you have to lose? (Okay, maybe it could fall off.)
The only tried-and-true method of treating a penile yeast infection is to blast those yeasties with prescription drugs that are ingested systemically and probably have side-effects. Furthermore, procuring such drugs will almost always involve a trip to the doctor. Take heart, though, that your man almost certainly won't be subjected to stirrups and speculums. There are two drugs commonly used to treat penile yeast infections:
- Diflucan (fluconazole) which has the advantage of being broad spectrum, so it will kill other species of Candida and some other fungi, but the disadvantage that apparently allergies to it are not uncommon.
- Nizoral (ketaconazole) is apparently really broad spectrum, powerfully evil stuff, and kills everything. It can also trash your liver, and reduces the adrenals' ability to make steroids, like testosterone.