Finding out that you have a yeast infection after sex is a pain in more ways than one. But a yeasty is also very common, and usually pretty easy to deal with.
If you’ve found yourself suffering down there right after hitting the sheets, is your sex sesh to blame? Here’s how you can get a yeast infection after intercourse.
What causes a yeast infection, anyway?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a vaginal yeast infection (aka candidiasis) is usually caused when you have an overgrowth of a yeast fungus called Candida albicans.
A healthy vagina naturally contains bacteria and yeast cells. But when this balance gets out of wack, symptoms like itching, vaginal burning, swelling, and cottage-cheese-like white discharge can arise. Things like sex, excess moisture, antibiotics, and other irritants can cause this imbalance.
Symptoms can usually be treated in a few days with over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, but more severe cases (or reoccurring) yeast infections will warrant a talk with a doc.
So, how can you get yeast infections after sex?
First off, a yeast infection isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but sex can still lead to a yeast infection. Say what?!
Candida fungus is a completely normal part of your vaginal ecosystem. But having sex can introduce extra yeast from a partner’s finger or penis (even a sex toy!). This can sometimes lead to an unintended and unexpected candida fungus overgrowth, and voilà, you have a yeast infection.
If you have penetrative sex and your partner has a penile yeast infection, you’ll have an even higher risk of a yeasty.
So, should you avoid sex if you have a yeast infection?
In short, yes. Sex isn’t the best idea when you have a yeast infection since it can cause painful sex and make things worse. Penetrative sex can disrupt your vaginal ecosystem even further, making it difficult for your body to restore the balance. This imbalance makes things more inflamed and itchy.
Your partner may get a yeast infection too. According to the Office on Women’s Health, around 15 percent of penis holders contract a yeast infection after sex without a barrier method with a partner who has a vaginal yeast infection. Their risk goes up if they’re uncircumcised.
So, while a yeast infection isn’t considered super contagious, there’s always a risk of one developing after sex, and it’s way more likely if a partner has a yeast infection.
Best raincheck on the romp until you’ve cleared things up.
Can you get a vaginal yeast infection from oral too?
Yup, it’s possible to get a yeast infection from oral. A 2003 study suggested that vaginal oral sex increases your risk of vaginal yeast infections because your partner’s tongue, mouth, and gums introduce new bacteria and Candida to your bits.
If your partner is kissing or licking other parts of your body, excess yeast can spread elsewhere, such as your nipples and anus too.
According to Planned Parenthood, you’re especially at risk if your partner has oral thrush (a yeast infection in your mouth). And that goes for any parts. Oral thrush or not, penile yeast infections can happen after a blowjob too.
So, what else can cause yeast infections down there?
Sex isn’t the only way you can get a yeast infection, and in most cases, it isn’t typically the reason you got a yeasty in the first place.
Other things that can lead to yeast infections include:
- wearing underwear that’s too tight or not “breathable”
- taking antibiotics or birth control pills
- following a high glycemic diet
- irritation from moist *shudder* environments like sweating or swimming
- using cleansers with fragrances on or around your vagina
- having a weakened immune system
Beat the itch: Vaginal yeast infection treatments
If you’ve found your vagina itchy and swollen, don’t panic — it’s a pretty easy fix.
A shopping trip for OTC creams or suppositories like miconazole (Monistat) or Clotrimazole can help you treat a yeast infection in the comfort of your own home.
While you’re treating your yeasty, help yourself out by wearing breathable cotton underwear and clothing. And avoid staying in wet clothes (that means changing out of those sweaty yoga pants ASAP). Taking an epsom salt bath can also help relieve the itching.
Your yeast infection should clear within 3 to 7 days with OTC treatment. But if your symptoms are still there in full-force beyond this, it’s time to talk with a doctor.
When to contact a doc about a yeast infection
If your symptoms haven’t disappeared after a full course of at-home treatment, contacting a doctor is the next step. Your doc can prescribe you medication to clear things up, and make sure that what you’re dealing with is actually a yeast infection.
It’s especially important to contact a doctor if you’re:
- having worsening symptoms
- getting yeast infections more than four times a year
- experiencing bleeding or smelly discharge
Prevention: Avoid a future yeasty
Some people are prone to yeast infections, but there are ways to help reduce your risk.
Look after your vagina with these tips:
- Don’t use scented soaps to wash it. The vagina is self-cleaning. No need for anything but water.
- Don’t wear tight underwear or thongs every day. Let it breathe. Try to add some looser, cotton undies into your underwear drawer.
- Check for allergic reactions. Scented lubes or period products can be super irritating and are best avoided. Always reach for unscented.
- Try to boost your immune system. According to a research review, taking some extra vitamin C supplements may help your immune system. Try eating more vitamin C foods too. Oranges are your best friend.
- Don’t douche. While it may make your vagina smell like roses (which it’s totally not supposed to), it can also lead to yeast infections. The active cleaning ingredients can upset healthy vaginal discharge and pH balance, so just don’t.