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    How to Recognize a Male Yeast Infection

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    Photo: sheff (Shutterstock)

    You might not have known that people with penises can get yeast infections, given that advertising for over-the-counter relief is widely geared toward those who do not. Prevention advice is usually aimed at vaginas, and yeast infection treatment is typically categorized as women’s health. In fairness, vaginas get the bulk of yeast infections, but it’s worth knowing that anyone can get one—and how to identify it.

    What is a yeast infection?

    No matter who you are and what equipment you’re packing, you likely have some common fungus known as candida albicans hanging out in your body. According to WebMD, there’s probably a little in your mouth and digestive tract right now, not to mention in other moist parts of your skin. This fungus is typically present in vaginas, too. While it doesn’t cause issues most of the time, if too much of it grows in any one place, it leads to a yeast infection.  

    Sure, that could happen anywhere the fungus is present, like your mouth—when that happens, it’s called oral thrush. When it happens on the tip of a penis, it’s called balanitis.

    What are the symptoms of penile yeast infection?

    According to the Mayo Clinic and WebMD, look out for these symptoms if you believe you might have a yeast infection:

    • Moist skin on the penis, potentially with a thick, white substance accumulating in folds of skin
    • Shiny, white areas on the skin of the penis
    • Redness, itching, or burning on the tip of the penis
    • Discharge that resembles cottage cheese or may even smell unpleasant and “bread-like”
    • Swelling at the tip of the penis
    • Trouble pulling back the foreskin
    • Trouble urinating
    • A hard time getting or keeping an erection

    Of course, most of these symptoms could also easily be symptoms of something else, so pay close attention to if you’re experiencing a number of them and keep the following risk factors in mind.

    How do you get a yeast infection on your penis?

    Balanitis is more common on uncircumcised penises. According to WebMD, these are some other risk factors:

    • Taking antibiotics for a long time
    • Having diabetes
    • Being overweight
    • Having a weak immune system
    • Having issues cleaning yourself
    • Having a sensitivity to soaps, perfumes, or chemicals

    Finally, the answer to the most burning question: Can you get a yeast infection through sex with someone who has one? Yes, you can. So, if you have sex with a partner who’s got a vaginal yeast infection, that overgrowth of fungus may spread to your junk, too.

    Diagnosis and treatment for balanitis

    Diagnosing a penile yeast infection is pretty easy, per WebMD: Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, take a look, and potentially swab the tip for a lab test. It’s important that you avoid trying to diagnose yourself because so many symptoms of a yeast infection are similar to those of other sexually transmitted infections.

    There are over-the-counter antifungal creams your doctor may recommend, but they may also prescribe one, or a steroid cream or oral medication. In the event of recurring infections, they may recommend circumcision, better hygiene habits, managing diabetes better, losing weight, or avoiding certain soaps or chemicals.

    The infection should clear up within three to five days of starting treatment. To help prevent this from happening again, be sure to clean and dry your penis every time you shower or have sex, use unscented hygiene products, and wear loose, cotton underwear. Communicate with your partner about their health and if they have a yeast infection, make sure to use a condom during sex until theirs is cleared up.

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