Despite the fact that yeast infections are often associated with women, men are also susceptible to this uncomfortable and often embarrassing condition. The myth that only women can contract yeast infections has persisted for years, leading many men to suffer in silence or even misdiagnose their symptoms. However, the reality is that male yeast infections are not only possible, but also quite common.
What is a Male Yeast Infection?
A male yeast infection, also known as male candidiasis or balanitis, is a fungal infection that affects the genitals, often causing discomfort and irritation. It's caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, which normally lives harmlessly on the skin and in the body.
However, when the balance of bacteria and fungi is disrupted, the yeast can grow out of control and cause an infection. Male yeast infections are more common in uncircumcised men, those with weakened immune systems, and men who have frequent unprotected sex with women who have yeast infections.
Yeast Infection or Jock Itch?
Male yeast infections can sometimes be mistaken for jock itch, which is another common fungal infection that affects the groin area. However, while jock itch usually causes a red, scaly rash and intense itching, a yeast infection typically causes more localized symptoms such as white patches, discharge, and soreness.
In some cases, a man can have both a yeast infection and jock itch at the same time, which can make it even more difficult to diagnose. It's important to see a healthcare provider if you're experiencing symptoms in the genital area to ensure that you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Balanitis or Yeast Infection?
Balanitis is a medical term that refers to inflammation of the glans (the head of the penis) and the foreskin. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor hygiene, bacterial or fungal infections, allergies, and irritation from soaps or other products. A yeast infection is one of the possible causes of balanitis, but it's not the only one. Other types of infections, as well as skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, can also cause balanitis.
Yeast Infection Symptoms in Men
Yeast infection symptoms in men can vary, depending on the severity of the infection and the area of the body affected. Common symptoms include:
- Itching or burning sensation on the penis or foreskin
- Redness or swelling of the head of the penis
- A thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese
- Pain or discomfort during sex or urination
- Soreness or irritation on the penis or foreskin
- A rash on the penis or groin area
It's important to note that not all men with a yeast infection experience all of these symptoms. In some cases, the infection can be asymptomatic or mild, and may go unnoticed.
What Can an Untreated Yeast Infection Do?
If left untreated, a yeast infection can cause a range of complications in men. These complications can include:
Balanitis: An untreated yeast infection can lead to balanitis, which is inflammation of the head of the penis and the foreskin. Balanitis can cause pain, itching, and redness, making it uncomfortable for a man to engage in sexual activity or even wear clothing.
Prostatitis: In rare cases, an untreated yeast infection can cause prostatitis, which is an infection of the prostate gland. Prostatitis can cause fever, chills, pain during urination, and difficulty emptying the bladder.
Systemic infections: An untreated yeast infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the bloodstream, causing a serious condition known as systemic candidiasis. This can lead to fever, chills, and potentially life-threatening complications.
Increased risk of HIV: Men with untreated yeast infections may be more susceptible to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
How To Treat a Male Yeast Infection
Treatment for a male yeast infection typically involves the use of antifungal medication. The specific medication and duration of treatment may vary depending on the severity of the infection and the man's overall health. Here are some common treatment options:
Topical antifungal creams: Over-the-counter or prescription-strength creams, lotions, or ointments containing antifungal medication, such as clotrimazole or miconazole, can be applied directly to the affected area.
Oral antifungal medications: Prescription-strength oral antifungal medications, such as fluconazole, may be prescribed for more severe infections or for men with weakened immune systems.
Natural remedies: Some men find relief from natural remedies such as tea tree oil, coconut oil, or probiotics, although there is limited scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.
In addition to medication, it's important to practice good hygiene and make lifestyle changes to prevent future infections. This includes keeping the genital area clean and dry, wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothing, avoiding scented products or harsh soaps, and practicing safe sex. It's also important to inform any sexual partners if you have a yeast infection, so that they can take appropriate precautions and receive treatment if necessary.
This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.