I’m wondering whether I can catch a yeast infection from my wife. She had one or was just over it when we had sex, now I have a couple of small red patches with tiny blisters in the center on the head of my penis. Could this be yeast infection?
Yeast infections are not generally thought of as sexually transmitted diseases, since so many women get them whether or not they are sexually active. I am convinced, however, that they can be passed between sexual partners, and that men can carry the yeast, at least for brief periods.
The fungus that causes most vaginal yeast infections in women is Candida albicans. Like all yeasts, it likes a nice, dark, warm, moist environment in which to grow, and the vagina suits it perfectly. Ordinarily the normal bacteria inhabiting the vagina make it much less receptive to yeast, and so the infection does not develop. But anything that changes those normal bacteria, such as taking antibiotics, birth control pills, being pregnant, or the high blood sugars associated with diabetes will make the vagina much more receptive to yeast.
Even without any of those contributing causes, some women just get frequent yeast infections. The yeast can grow in the intestines, is often found in the mouth, and is pretty ubiquitous in the environment, so a susceptible woman always has a source of re-infection.
Douching, by the way, is another way of changing the environment in the vagina, and has been associated with much more severe infections in the uterus or fallopian tubes. Most experts advise that women should never, ever, douche, not after their periods, not when they have a discharge, never. The vagina is remarkably self cleansing if we don’t interfere with it.
Men of course don’t have a nice dark, moist, warm area on their genitals, except under the foreskin if they are uncircumsized, so the yeast really cannot take hold on the penis. However a brief infection can occur, usually with small red spots and perhaps flaking. Ordinary washing and cleanliness is usually all that is required, and if you are uncircumsized it is important to clean carefully under the foreskin to prevent more growth there.