Chances are, you’ve heard of a genital thrush infection, no doubt, via your girlfriend (women are especially susceptible.) But you might not be aware that guys can get them too. In fact, they’re really common – especially if you’re uncircumcised.
But what exactly causes them? And how do you know if you have one?
Here, we break it down.
As per Health Direct, a thrush infection (or yeast infection) is caused by an overgrowth of fungus called Candida. This fungus naturally occurs in the body, particularly in warm, moist places like the mouth or genitals. Usually, this is kept under wraps by the immune system and largely goes unnoticed. However, certain factors (say, skin irritation or antibiotics) can cause the fungus to multiply, which leads to some pretty, erm… unsavoury symptoms. These include;
- a very itchy, red, and sore head of your penis
- small red spots on the head of your penis
- discharge from your penis
- pain when passing urine
- difficultly pulling back your foreskin
- a ‘cheese-like’ substance that smells yeasty and sometimes collects under your foreskin
It’s worth noting you can have thrush without displaying all of these tell-tale signs. Now for the good news: most cases can be easily treated by practising good hygiene or investing in over-the-counter antifungal medications.
- Clean the infected area carefully, preferably in the shower rather than a bath. Make sure you dry the area well by patting it instead of rubbing it. This will help reduce the build-up of moisture in the area and make it more difficult for the fungus to survive.
- Don’t use sprays, soaps, oils, disinfectants, shower gels or deodorants around the affected area as these can cause further irritation.
- Avoid sharing your towels.
- Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear to help to keep your genitals dry and cool and prevent the build-up of the fungus.
If you’re in pain, you can call your local GP or sexual health clinic to get further advice or simply swing by the chemist. Most likely, you’ll be prescribed an over-the-counter antifungal cream (e.g. Canesten) or given a prescription for a single-dose pill treatment.
Now for the biggie… can you still have sex with a thrush infection? In short, it’s not recommended. Sexual activity may prolong your infection or cause it to return worse than before. It can also be transmitted from you to your partner, even if you’re not actively showing symptoms.