All vaginas have yeast. It’s natural and normal, but a yeast infection occurs when that normal amount of yeast goes into overdrive, creating more yeast than any vagina could possibly need. This “bad” yeast is called Candida albican, and can be brought on by a variety of internal and external forces like stress, antibiotics, diet, hormone therapy, or other health concerns like diabetes or HIV. No matter what caused your yeast infection, it results in itchiness, both inside the vagina and around the vulva area, along with some soreness. It’s also usually accompanied by a discharge that resembles cottage cheese — that cottage cheese factor, is a major sign that you have a yeast infection and not something else.
According to the Center for Disease Control roughly 75 percent of women will have at least one yeast infection during their lifetime. Yeast infections aren’t just common but easily curable with over the counter internal and external creams. Yeast infections can also be prevented by adding more probiotics to your diet and sticking to cotton underwear — happy and healthy vaginas need to breathe. But while you can prevent them, cure them, and they’re tremendously common, can you have sex with a yeast infection? Yes. But you probably shouldn’t.
I reached out to Dr. Jennifer Caudle, Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, to get her expert opinion on whether or not having sex with a yeast infection is ever a good idea. Her immediate response? “Though it is possible to have sex while having a yeast infection, I recommend holding off on sex until the yeast infection is treated.”
Here are four reasons why you want to wait until your yeast infection has cleared up, before you have sex again. But first, check out our video on sex positions to last longer in bed:
1. You Can Pass It On To Your Partner
It’s important to point out that yeast infections are NOT sexually transmitted diseases. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be passed on to your partner through unprotected sex. “WomensHealth.gov states that if you have unprotected sex with a man when you have a yeast infection, he will have a 15 percent chance of getting an itchy rash on their penis as a result,” Dr. Caudle tells Bustle. “If you have unprotected sex with a woman [when you have a yeast infection], there is also a possibility that she may get a yeast infection.”
2. Vaginal Sex Isn’t The Only Way To Pass A Yeast Infection
Although yeast infections reside in the vagina, “It is possible to pass a yeast infection onto your partner during unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex,” says Dr. Caudle. What this means is that if your partner goes down on you while you have an active yeast infection, they could end up with soreness and white patches, in and around, the mouth area.
While there is no guarantee that your partner can end up with a yeast infection in their mouth (also known as thrush), those who already have weakened immune systems, from even something as basic as the common cold or are on antibiotics (something we already know can cause yeast infections in the first place), are definitely more at risk. If your partner does get the infection in their mouth, a prescribed anti-fungal rinse can treat it, but it’s still nothing with which you want your partner to deal.
3. You And Your Partner Can Continue To Pass It Back And Forth To Each Other
Well, if we do the basic math on this one: If you have unprotected sex with a yeast infection, pass it to your partner, then they don’t realize they have it so they don’t seek treatment, but your yeast infection is cured, so you have sex again — what does that lead to? A vicious circle of yeast infections. Vicious circles are never fun, especially when it’s something that stands in the way of sex.
4. It Hurts (And Not In A Good Way)
Another reason to hold off on having sex during a yeast infection? It hurts! “Yeast infections can cause painful sex,” says Dr. Caudle, and we’re not talking about the good kind of pain that those who practice BDSM may find intriguing. Dr. Caudle strongly suggests that if you think you have a yeast infection, it’s best to go to your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and the necessary treatment as soon as possible.
Yeast infections may not be serious business, (unless they’re left untreated and evolve into Invasive Candidiasis), but if it’s standing in the way of your sex life, that should be reason enough to get it cleared up stat.