Yeast Infections After Sex: Vaginal Candidiasis
In its normal state, the vagina contains a variable amount of yeast. When this yeast reaches excessive amounts, it can lead to an infection that can be both uncomfortable and irritating. Given how common they are, many women often wonder if they can contract yeast infections after sex.
The most common type of yeast infection is from candida. However, it’s important to clarify that vaginal candidiasis is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.
Let’s take a closer look.
What is vaginal candidiasis?
Vaginal candidiasis, or a vaginal yeast infection, is an infection that results from the excess presence of different types of candida fungus, the most common of which is Candida Albicans.
Often, these infections occur when the immune system is weak or when a series of circumstances allow for an excessive reproduction of this type of yeast which is already present naturally in the intestinal flora and vagina.
What’s more, vaginal candidiasis affects 3 out of every 4 women at some point in their lives. In fact, many women experience at least three episodes. However, in general, these infections tend to be mild and their symptoms improve in a matter of days, without further complications.
While vaginal candidiasis is not a sexually transmitted disease, the risk of contracting yeast infections after sex of any type is greater. This is especially true in the case of contact between the mouth and genitals. Therefore, it is possible to spread the infection from one partner to another if you don’t apply proper preventative measures.
While it’s not common, yeast infections can also occur on the penis and also the scrotum. They cause redness, swelling, and itching in the area.
The causes of yeast infections
The vagina naturally contains fungi and bacteria in different proportions. The amount of these different types of microorganisms present responds to a balance: Lactobacillus, for example, acts in order to prevent the excessive growth of fungi.
If this balance is disturbed, then it creates the perfect conditions for certain microorganisms, like the candida fungus, to proliferate. This excessive growth and the penetration of this yeast in the deepest cell layers leads to vaginal candidiasis. The main facts that can result in this type of infection are the following:
- Changes in the balance of bacterial flora. The use of antibiotics to treat other types of infections can produce changes in the vaginal mucosa, leading to the proliferation of this yeast.
- Hormonal changes. Yeast infections are more common in women with high levels of estrogen. This can also occur in pregnant women and those that are undergoing some sort of treatment to stimulate the production of this hormone.
- A weekend immune system due to HIV, obesity, diabetes, cancer, or treatment involving corticosteroids.
- Changes in the vagina’s pH. A more basic vaginal pH will facilitate the reproduction of the yeasts that lead to vaginal candidiasis.
The most frequent symptoms of yeast infections are the following:
- Thick, lumpy, and generally odorless vaginal secretions.
- A creamy white covering in the vagina and vulva.
- Inflammation, itching, and irritation in the vulva.
- Painful urination.
- Uncomfortable sexual relations.
- Chapping or lesions in the labia of the vagina.
Read more: 7 Ways to Detect and Avoid Vaginal Infections
The treatment of yeast infections
Vaginal candidiasis is easy to cure within a few days with the use of antifungal treatments. If this isn’t the first time you’ve had an infection and you recognize the symptoms, you can easily find over-the-counter creams and suppositories at your local drug store.
However, if this is the first time you’ve had a yeast infection, then you should see your gynecologist. He or she will be able to make a proper evaluation of your condition and tell you how to recognize infections in the future. It’s vitally important that you complete the prescribed treatment and follow the instructions for use properly.
Doctors recommend abstaining from sex during the healing process. That means you should avoid both oral and vaginal sex, as friction can cause more irritation in the affected area. It’s also important to note that some creams used to treat yeast infections contain oils that can cause damage to certain types of condoms.
Read more: 6 Habits That Cause Vaginal Yeast Infections
The prevention of yeast infections
Some of the general recommendations for the prevention of vaginal candidiasis are the following:
- Wear cotton underwear without dyes or stains.
- Frequently change tampons and pads.
- Increase hygiene measures during menstruation.
- Avoid the use of harsh soaps and perfumes in the genital region.
- Moderate your sugar consumption.
- Have a healthy lifestyle, eat a balanced diet, and practice sports regularly.
So, can you contract yeast infections after sex?
The answer is yes.
As we said, yeast infections are not classified as sexually transmitted diseases, since they can spread by other means of contagion. However, sexual contact is one way that vaginal candidiasis can spread.