How long do penile yeast infections last?
This depends on how advanced the yeast infection is, how fast you treat it, and how well it responds to medication. If you treat the infection with over-the-counter meds, you’ll usually apply these for one to three weeks.2 Ideally, this will be enough to make the yeast infection go away for good. If that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to see your doctor for next steps and an updated timeline. You’ll most likely need to take a single dose of oral antifungal medication, or if symptoms are severe, two single doses, three days apart, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Are penile yeast infections contagious?
Practically speaking, yes, you can pass a yeast infection to another person through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but it’s not really the same thing as an STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia. That’s because everyone naturally has Candida living on their bodies. With a transmitted yeast infection, though, it really comes down to how your body reacts to someone else’s overgrowth of yeast, according to Planned Parenthood.
If you keep getting penile yeast infections and you aren’t sure why, it may be a good idea to talk to your partner about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. A doctor can test both you and your partner for the presence of yeast and recommend treatments to help if they confirm that you’re passing an infection back and forth (which can turn into a vicious cycle quickly when left untreated).
So, do you have to wait until the yeast infection is gone to have sex? Generally, that is the safest option, but it really depends on the underlying cause of your infection and your doctor’s advice. They will likely give you the green light once your physical symptoms have gone away.
Can you tell the difference between a penile yeast infection vs. a UTI vs. an STI?
A penile yeast infection can closely resemble other health problems, including a urinary tract infection (UTI) or various STIs, but there are a few key differences. For one, they are all caused by different things (fungus, bacteria, and viruses are all in the mix here), and so they each have varying treatments.
While a penile yeast infection will usually cause intense itching and white spots on the skin of the penis, a urinary tract infection will not. A UTI may also present with a few extra symptoms like fever and a near-constant urge to pee even if not much comes out, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
An STI may be a little more difficult to differentiate, since a number of sexually transmitted infections can cause symptoms that overlap with those of a penile yeast infection, like pain while urinating or having sex, inflamed skin, and discharge. When in doubt, see your doctor who can perform a physical exam and order any needed testing—you’ll likely need prescribed treatment regardless of your diagnosis.
How can I prevent a penile yeast infection?
Since hot, humid conditions encourage yeast to thrive, it’s especially important to wash the penis (and foreskin, if you have it) with mild soap, especially after exercise and in the summer when the skin tends to be sweatier. Also, try to make sure the area under your foreskin is dry to halt eager yeast growth in its tracks.2 (A gentle pat down with a towel is all you need here!) Wearing breathable athletic wear may also be helpful during workouts and the warmer months, and change out of those clothes immediately after getting sweaty. It may also help to use some antifungal spray or powder on your genital area in the morning if you’re going to be working outside in hot weather.
And since certain health conditions can increase your risk for a penile yeast infection, taking steps to manage your condition, such as keeping your blood sugar levels in check in the case of diabetes, is crucial for your overall health (and for trying to keep the yeast overlords at bay).
With that said, penile yeast infections can just happen sometimes. Thankfully, there are lots of effective medication options, some of which you can even get at your local pharmacy. Because complications can be even more of a pain to deal with, getting on top of treatment as quickly as possible is the best way to get your life (and penis) back to baseline.
- International Journal of Preventive Medicine, Penile Inflammatory Skin Disorders and the Preventive Role of Circumcision
- StatPearls, Balanitis
- International Journal of Dermatology, Urologic Dermatology: A Comprehensive Foray Into the Noninfectious Etiologies of Balanitis
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