Having a vagina pretty much guarantees that you will experience a series of unpleasant milestones throughout your life. From bleeding through a pair of white pants, to having a panic attack about wondering whether or not you may die from toxic shock syndrome, it's like the darkly humorous side of those cutesy coming of age movies, and no coming of age menstruation tale is complete without a perfectly annoying yeast infection. Yeast infections are super common with women, but you have to wonder: Can you give a guy a yeast infection?
The immediate answer here is yes, partners can sexually transmit yeast infections — otherwise known as candida — to one another. But before you worry about passing it to your partner, you should first know what exactly you're dealing with in your own body.
A yeast infection happens when you see a growth of fungus called candida in moist areas, like your vagina. It can also happen in your mouth, in which case it's called thrush (yum). Cosmopolitan reports some of the major factors that can lead to the candida fungus overpopulating and turning into a yeast infection, including an allergic reaction, damp underwear, birth control, stress, douches, antibiotics, tight clothing, and more.
Yeast infections are pretty easy to spot, because, to put it bluntly, they're just the worst.
They can make you feel itchy, they can burn, they can give you a serious odor down there, and they can cause white, cottage cheese-esque discharge that requires a not-so-fun cleanup.
The good news, though, is that yeast infections have a pretty easy fix, and you can usually banish them with a quick over-the-counter remedy.
But the bad news is that yes, you can, in fact, give them to your boyfriend (or girlfriend).
Although yeast infections are way more common for people with vaginas, they can happen with men, and are usually transmitted through sexual activity. If you're a male, you're more likely to get a yeast infection if you're uncircumcised, most likely because that, just like a vagina, leaves a moist area where fungus can potentially grow unchecked.
As for ways you can potentially give or get a yeast infection through your sexual partner, there are definitely a few to consider. First of all, if you have thrush or a yeast infection, then whatever comes into contact with that part of your body is technically at risk of getting a yeast infection. For example, if you have thrush and perform oral sex on someone else, you can potentially give that person a yeast infection.
However, giving your partner a yeast infection really isn't all that common. In fact, according to the Office on Women's Health, roughly 15 percent of men experience an uncomfortable rash on their penis after having unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. Sexual transmission is more likely to happen if you have recurring infections, so this is something to keep an eye out for if you're one of those poor, unfortunate souls who gets chronic yeast infections.
Given that about five percent of women experience recurrent yeast infections (ugh), it's important to know your body in order to know how you can best be sexually safe with your partner. If you have chronic yeast infections, it's worth keeping your partner up to date on them.
Even if your partner doesn't end up contracting a yeast infection of their own, it's always a healthy sign of respect to be honest about your body with the person you're sleeping with.
If you do have a yeast infection, keep this in mind: The medication to get rid of a yeast infection can often lower the efficacy of birth control.
Make sure that you're totally clear with a pharmacist or doctor on whether or not your antibiotic will affect your birth control before you have any more sex. If you think a yeast infection is the most unwelcome surprise that can happen to your vagina...think again.