Can You Get a Yeast Infection Even If You Have a Penis?
While yeast infections are usually thought of as a condition that affects only women, male yeast infections can and do occur. Yeast infections, which are caused by an overgrowth of fungus, affect numerous parts of the body, such as the skinfolds, mouth, throat and genitals. In men, a yeast infection affects the area around the penis and testicles, and is sometimes referred to as a penile yeast infection or Candida balanitis.
If a yeast infection of the penis is not promptly treated, it can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Worse than that, the infection can spread to the bloodstream and cause severe complications.
Male yeast infection symptoms
One of the main symptoms of a yeast infection in men is swelling and redness of the head of the penis, a condition known as balanitis. A thick, white substance under the foreskin is another sign of balanitis. Jock itch, or tinea cruris, is another type of fungal infection that affects a man's genital area.
Common symptoms of a male yeast infection include:
- Itching or burning on the penis
- Redness or swelling
- Moist penis skin
- Swelling around the tip of the penis
- White, shiny patches on the penis
- Smelly discharge with a cottage cheese appearance
- Trouble pulling back the foreskin
- Difficulty urinating
- Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection
Men are more likely to develop balanitis from a yeast infection if they:
- Are uncircumcised
- Are diabetic
- Use antibiotics for long periods
- Have HIV or another disease that compromises the immune system
- Are overweight or obese
- Use steroids
- Practice poor hygiene
- Are sensitive to perfumes, soaps or chemicals
In serious cases, you may have a hard time urinating or controlling your urine stream. Symptoms that last a long time or are particularly severe should be brought to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible. If you and your partner have symptoms of a yeast infection, it's critical that both of you be treated so you can avoid reinfecting each other. Abstaining from sex or using a condom is recommended during treatment.
Treatment options for male yeast infections
Treatment for male yeast infections includes antifungal medicines to kill the fungus. Antifungal creams commonly used include:
- Miconazole (common brands: Monistat, Desenex, Cruex)
- Imidazole (Canesten, Selezen)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
Most of these are available as over-the-counter medications. Make sure you follow the package instructions for applying the creams and, most important, complete the entire course of treatment even if your symptoms improve. Stopping treatment too early can allow the symptoms to return, possibly even worse than before.
More severe yeast infections may require prescription medications. Oral fluconazole (Diflucan) and prescription-strength hydrocortisone cream may be prescribed by your doctor.
Preventing yeast infections
You can lower your risk of a male yeast infection by abstaining from sex if your partner has an infection, controlling chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, and losing weight. While you may be hesitant to seek medical attention for mild symptoms such as penile itching, a doctor will be able to diagnose the yeast infection as well as rule out any other infections, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Proper hygiene can help prevent a yeast infection. Wash your penis regularly with warm water and dry well afterward. Make sure you clean and dry your penis after sex, too. Choosing unscented soaps can also help prevent yeast infections. Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear can prevent moisture from building up on the penis, and, in general, keeping your genitals dry and cool may also help prevent yeast growth.
If you have a yeast infection, remember that they are highly treatable. An OTC antifungal ointment will likely clear up your infection within a week. If you are prone to yeast infections, it's important to be on the lookout for early signs or symptoms of infection so you can see a doctor promptly.