By San Knew, MSW
Those of you who read this column regularly may tend to be surprised by what you learn. I like to think this is done with a combination of statistical science and wit (if I say so myself). But occasionally I find myself challenged to find the balance between tasteful humor and knowledge. This is one of those times. With that in mind, you may prefer to enjoy your morning coffee and bagel before reading on.
We are talking about yeast infections here, so get set. Most of us think that yeast infections (Candida) are primarily a female problem. It may surprise you, however, to learn that men can also contract or develop yeast infections. Penile, anal and yes, oral, are all types of yeast infections in men. Most commonly, penile yeast infections among men are transmitted sexually,normally after sex with a carrier female, which makes it surprising that yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Men who engage in vaginal sex with an infected female partner can pass the infection to anyone (male or female). This is one means of the spread of the infection (anally and orally). The rate of infection is higher among uncircumcised men since the foreskin can trap in moisture. General symptoms of penile infection are identified as itching (similar to jock itch), burning during sex and urination, soreness, and redness
of the tip of the penis. Some men may also experience a white, clumpydischarge (not to be mistaken for semen).
Anal infection symptoms are usually isolated to itchiness and redness. Men who also engage in unprotected anal sex (even with an uninfected partner) may develop an infection. This can occur when bacteria in feces comes into contact with the penis, (another reason to avoid that “not so fresh” feeling).
Oral infection (thrush) is usually recognized by white patches covering the inside of the mouth. Patches may be on the insides of the cheeks, tongue, roof of the mouth, and lips and gums as it spreads. Partners performing oral sex on uncircumcised men are at greater risk, again due an increased likelihood of trapped bacteria.
Additional means of infection among men include the prolonged use of antibiotics and men with compromised immune systems. Antibiotics do not discriminate between bad and good bacteria, thus creating an ideal environment for the infection to cultivate. In addition, diabetic individuals are also likely to develop yeast infections due to high levels of sugar in the body – specifically in urine.
Fortunately, prevention and treatment for all these types of yeast infections are fairly simple. Your own personal hygiene is always a good place to start. Also, try being mindful to wash any areas of the body that can trap moisture (foreskin) and remember to completely dry these areas. Severe cases in partners can be identified easily, especially if you are taking the time to playfully “inspect.” Usually treatment includes a week-long regimen of topical cream and abstinence, the latter perhaps being the most difficult of the two.
Sam Knew, MSW is an educator and a local counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or