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Can men get thrush?

3rd June 2020

When it comes to infections of the intimate kind, people can end up with a lot of questions due to avoiding discussing these things with their doctor. Questions about sexually transmitted infections, penile discharge and thrush - can men get thrush?

Can men get thrush?

A lot of people know that women can get infections like bacterial vaginosis, cystitis and thrush, but not everyone realises that men can get thrush too. Thrush is a yeast infection that can develop in areas that are warm and moist (such as the mouth, penis and vagina).

Although men can develop thrush, it’s far more common in women as the vagina is a better breeding ground for candida (the fungus that causes thrush). Because the head of the penis is smaller than the vagina, it’s harder for the fungus to grow. But if it does, it can cause symptoms such as a discharge that resembles cottage cheese, an unpleasant smell and itching or burning under the foreskin.

What causes thrush?

Thrush is caused by a fungus called candida which is normally harmless. However, if the fungus multiplies and grows at a rate faster than your immune system can keep it in check, then it can become out of control and cause symptoms of thrush. This typically happens in warm, moist environments like the genitals and throat.

There are a number of factors that can trigger a thrush infection including medical conditions like diabetes or a weakened immune system, pregnancy and certain hygiene measures. You may also notice a thrush infection if your partner has it, which is why you should refrain from sex until the infection has cleared.

Is thrush an STI?

Thrush can be triggered from one sexual partner to another but it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection because the yeast is not acquired from one person to another, it already lives in your body (but normally harmlessly). However, if one person has a yeast infection where this fungus has gotten out of control, it can cause an overgrowth in another person if you have sex.

If you have thrush then you should avoid having sex until the infection has cleared to avoid triggering the same infection in the other person.

Treatment for thrush

If you have thrush then you’ll normally need anti-fungal medication to treat it. This should usually clear the infection within a week and the dose varies based on whether you take a tablet or a cream.

Fluconazole is an anti-fungal tablet that only requires one dose to clear the infection, while creams like Canesten offer a soothing treatment that should be applied a couple of times a day. For women with thrush, there is also the option of a vaginal pessary.

Although thrush can be triggered from one partner to another, it’s not necessary to treat partners for thrush unless they have symptoms.