Generally, we think of women being more prone to a yeast infection. But, men too, can develop this condition. Candidal balanitis, also known as balanitis thrush, affects the head of the penis and is more common in uncircumcised men. While up to 20 percent of women may experience vaginal candidiasis, yeast infections in men are less common.
Causes of yeast infections in men
Candida, a fungus, naturally exists in our body, specifically in the gastrointestinal tract, mouth, throat, and genital area. Although it is considered a normal part of our gut microbiome, its overgrowth can lead to infections. Candida thrives in warm, moist environments but can also develop due to other factors like hormonal changes, a weakened immune system, antibiotics, high sugar intake, and stress. Some common symptoms of candida overgrowth include digestive issues, genital yeast infections, fatigue, brain fog, mood swings, and skin rashes. It is important to maintain a healthy balance of candida in the body to prevent it from causing health problems.
A yeast infection can be contracted by men through sexual contact with an infected woman, but it can also occur without sexual activity. Thus, it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.
Here are potential causes and risk factors for male yeast infections:
- Men with poor hygiene
- Uncircumcised men
- Uncontrolled diabetes. Yeast growth increases when blood sugar levels are high
- Prolonged antibiotic use. This lowers good bacteria which can increase growth of candida
- Weakened immune system from chronic health condition promoting the spread of candida
- Soaps and skin products irritating to the skin
- Wearing tight-fitting underwear or wet clothing
- Condoms that contain lubricants
- Using spermicides
- Hot, humid environments
- Being overweight
What are the symptoms of a yeast infection in men?
In the beginning, yeast infections in men tend to be symptomless. However, as the infection becomes worse, symptoms begin to appear. Here are possible symptoms a man with a yeast infection may have:
- Burning with urination
- Sores on the foreskin of the penis
- Irritation and itchiness
- White, lumpy, foul- smelling discharge
- Uncomfortable sexual intercourse
- The top of the penis looks red and inflamed
- Small rash like bumps that may contain pus
- The top of the penis exhibits patches of white, shiny skin
Men experiencing any of the above symptoms should see their doctor right away. If left untreated, yeast infections of the penis can potentially cause problems with the prostate.
Treating and preventing male yeast infections
Yeast infections in men can go away on their own, but they can also spread to the scrotum, inner thighs and buttocks. If the yeast infection is mild, they may not require treatment. However, antifungal creams or oral medications can help manage symptoms. An oral antifungal medication, such as fluconazole, is highly effective in treating yeast infections.
Good hygiene is the best way to prevent developing or spreading a yeast infection. To prevent re-infection, treatment is necessary for both partner to prevent the infection being transmitted back and forth. Condoms should be worn during sexual intercourse by any man with a yeast infection. Men should also wash their penis regularly with plain warm water, avoiding perfumed shower gels or soaps on their genitals. After a showering, it is important to dry the penile area thoroughly. Wearing boxers or loose-fitting cotton underwear that allow air flow to help keep the genitals dry and cool, can also prevent yeast growth.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.