What is male thrush?
Thrush is a yeast infection caused by an overgrowth of the yeast candida that occurs naturally in warm, moist areas, such as the around the genitals and inside the mouth.
Normally it’s kept under control by your immune system. This bacterial balance can be easily upset, however, by anything from antibiotics to stress or tight-fitting clothes. As a result, the fungus multiplies and causes nasty symptoms.
So is thrush an STI?
Technically, it isn’t classed as an STI. It isn’t infectious, and it’s not something you ‘give’ to one another. However, it’s possible for people to get thrush after having sex.
“Thrush confuses people,” says Lynn Hearton at fpa. “You can get it from having sex, but it’s not a contagious thing to pass on. It’s all to do with the environment you’re putting your sexual organs into. So, if you sleep with a girl with thrush, her vagina may be dryer and more alkali and this could interfere with your penis.”
But that doesn’t mean if you sleep with someone who has thrush you’ll automatically pick up the symptoms. “It depends on how much sex you’re having,” says Lynn. “If you’re having loads of sex the head of the penis can become sore and dry, and this can make you susceptible to thrush as candida thrives on skin already damaged.”
How do you prevent thrush?
It’s actually very hard to get thrush if you’re a guy. It’s much more likely you’ve got a urine infection or picked up an STI.
Thrush is, typically, a ‘women’s condition’ that you can give her just by thrusting too hard or having sex with her too often. If a girl has thrush, it’s best to use a condom so as to protect you both from interfering with each other. Also wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear can help prevent moisture building up under your foreskin, which lowers the chances of the fungus multiplying.
Not over doing it on the highly perfumed shower gels is also important. “The penis, like the vagina, is self cleansing, so you should only use mild soap or plain water. Otherwise what you’re doing is washing away natural oils and natural bacteria that cleans from the inside out,” says Lynn.
Also, make sure you dry yourself…and your bits properly after showering as thrush loves warm and moist conditions.
What are the symptoms in men?
For men, symptoms appear around the foreskin. The head of the penis becomes sore, red and itchy at first. This is usually followed by a white, sometimes stinky, discharge under the foreskin because that area is moist and warm.
“The head of the penis can become so sore it makes peeling back the foreskin painful,” says Lynn. “This can easily be passed off as an STI.”
It can also be painful when you pee.
How do you treat thrush?
Thrush can be easily treated with over-the-counter creams like Canesten. If in doubt, your doctor or pharmacist will be able to advise you on the most appropriate product.
It’s best to avoid sex until things have gone away. And, if you’re really sore, applying natural yoghurt can also relieve the pain, but won’t actually clear up the infection.
Photo of candida yeast by Shutterstock
Updated on 25-Sep-2012