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A vaginal yeast infection can burn, itch, and just be hella uncomfortable. But where did it come from, anyway? And, is there a chance your yeast infection might be from oral sex?
Candida fungus is a type of yeast naturally found on your skin, mouth, digestive system, penis, and vagina. When too much of the stuff grows, it can lead to a yeast infection, also called Candidiasis. This infection can happen in the vagina, skin folds, belly button, penis, mouth, or nail beds.
Yes. If you have oral sex, your time between the sheets could lead to a yeast infection. When someone has a yeast infection, they can sometimes spread it to another person through physical contact, including oral sex.
But while it’s possible to have contracted the infection from a sexual partner, the timing could also be a good old-fashioned coincidence. Yeast overgrowth can happen in your body without having sex, but there are a few ways oral sex can cause a yeast infection.
First yeast infection?
An estimated 75 percent of women will have at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lives. While feeling yeasty down there is never ideal, they’re usually not serious and can be treated pretty easily (thankfully, in loose sweatpants).
Candida fungus actually lives in your mouth, but if you have an overgrowth of this fungus, you can develop oral thrush (aka a yeast infection of the mouth).
Candida fungus also naturally lives in the vagina and penis. So, when you perform oral sex on someone, even if they have healthy levels of the stuff, the extra candida can trigger an overgrowth in your mouth.
You can also get oral thrush from a vaginal, penile, or anal yeast infection that comes into contact with your mouth.
If you have a vagina, you could also wind up with a vaginal yeast infection when your partner goes down on you.
Since candida fungus loves moist environments, the vagina can be its playground. (WAP, anyone?) So, when you’re receiving oral sex, candida may take the chance to grow and lead to an infection. If your partner has oral thrush, they can also introduce extra candida to your hoo-ha.
One 2003 study suggested that receiving vaginal oral sex increases your risk of getting a vaginal yeast infection.
While we hear a lot about vaginal yeast infections, they happen to penises, too. If you have a penis and someone with oral thrush goes down on you, a penile yeast infection can result.
The natural levels of candida your partner has in their mouth can also trigger a penile yeast infection, especially if you’re uncircumcised.
Rimming (aka analingus) can also cause a yeast infection of the anus, especially if the giver has oral thrush. Having penetrative anal sex with someone with a penile yeast infection can also spread the infection to the anus.
If you gave or received oral sex recently and now have a yeast infection, it’s possible a sexual partner gave it to you. But don’t point fingers just yet. It could be you who spread the infection to them first. It could also just be a coincidence that your own body has a yeast overgrowth.
While the cause might be a little tricky to pinpoint, it’s important to let any active or recent sex partners know if you have a yeast infection. If you’re itchy and uncomfortable, they might be, too. Let them know, so they can seek treatment if necessary.
Yeast infections can cause discharge, discomfort, itching, and burning — not exactly a recipe for good sex. But even if you’re not showing any symptoms, adding oral sex to the mix can make matters worse if you have a yeast infection.
In fact, having any kind of sex with a yeast infection can prolong your infection, worsen it, or transmit the infection to a sexual partner. If you keep getting down, you risk passing the infection back and forth like a miserable game of hot potato.
To play it safe, wait until the infection clears to get back down to business.
While sex is sometimes to blame, yeast infections can be triggered by many other factors, including:
Treating oral thrush
If you have oral thrush, there are various oral and topical over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription treatments you can try like anti-fungal mouthwashes, lozenges, and oral anti-fungal meds. Once you start treatment, it can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to fully fade away.
Oral thrush tends to be trickier to treat and often demands prescription meds to fully clear. So, if you have oral thrush for the first time, it’s a good idea to play it safe and visit a healthcare professional.
Also, if you try the stuff and your symptoms worsen or persist, head to a medical professional.
Pro tip: Gargling daily with saltwater can help reduce discomfort and speed up the healing process in the meantime.
Treating vaginal, penile or anal yeast infections
Miconazaole (Monistat) and clotrimazole (Canesten) are OTC treatments typically targeted at those with vaginal yeast infections, but they also work on the penis or anus. These treatments are usually pretty legit, even for more severe candida infections of the genitals or anus.
Once you start treatment, the infection should clear within 3 to 7 days. Even if it seems like your infection finally peaced out, still follow the medication’s instructions for the full course of treatment. You want to make sure it’s gone for good.
If this is your first yeast infection, OTC treatment doesn’t work, or you have a severe case on your hands, head to a medical professional. They can give you stronger prescription medication to ensure that extra candida heads for the hills.
You should also see a doc if you have:
Say goodbye to unwelcome infections down the road by taking some extra precautions when getting or giving oral sex. The giver can wear a dental dam and the receiver can wear a condom to minimize the spread of bacteria and keep everyone healthy.
You can also do a few things to create a healthy bacterial environment in your bod:
- Take a daily probiotic.
- Cut down on carbs and high sugar foods and beverages.
- Load up on more Greek yogurt, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, or other fermented and high probiotic foods to keep yeast in check.
To keep infections specifically of the vag, penis or anus at bay, try these simple steps:
- Wear breathable undies. Check your fabric contents twice: 100 percent cotton FTW. (Pro tip: Cotton can also help control everyday odor.)
- Recently been in the pool or at the gym? Always shower thoroughly after you get sweaty or wet.
- Avoid using products with fragrance around your vagina. They may smell nice, but the vagina’s naturally cleansing and doesn’t need it.
- Avoid douching. It can cause or worsen a yeast infection and is really not necessary for good vaginal health, anyway.