Vaginal yeast infections are fungal infections that affect the vulva or the vagina. There is a natural yeast presence in the vagina, but when there is an overgrowth of this fungus, it can lead to an infection. This is very common, with around 75 percent of women experiencing at least one yeast infection throughout their lives. Around 50 percent of women can have two or more vaginal yeast infections in their lives.
If you are currently experiencing a yeast infection you will likely notice a great deal of itchiness around or in your vagina. This can be accompanied by a swelling, burning or redness of the vulva or vagina, soreness, pain during sex or while urinating or a rash on your vagina. You may also notice that you have a discharge from the vagina that is thick and white, somewhat resembling cottage cheese. Unlike discharges associated with sexually transmitted diseases, this discharge should not have a foul odor.
People commonly believe that having sex will cause women to develop a yeast infection, but this is not the case. Women that are not having sex can still develop a yeast infection. In most cases a yeast infection occurs when the immune system is weak. Those that are overworked or tired can have a higher risk for developing a yeast infection. If you have just recovered from being ill or using antibiotics, you may also be susceptible to developing a yeast infection. Those that do not eat a proper diet, suffer from diabetes or are pregnant can also have an increased risk
A yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted disease in spite of the symptoms being relatively similar. However, if you have been scratching the vagina due to the itchiness associated with yeast infections you may have left small cuts on the skin that increase your risk of developing an STD. These cuts will make it easier for viruses or bacteria that cause STDs to enter your body more readily. This is particularly concerning for the spread of HIV/AIDS which is spread through contact with bodily fluids. On open wound on the skin, however small, increases this risk. Studies have shown that women who suffered from yeast infections were much more likely to develop HIV, particularly if they were not educated on proper STD prevention.
A male sexual partner will not increase your risk of developing a yeast infection, but performing certain sexual acts might. Oral sex can increase a woman's risk of developing a yeast infection. This does not cause a yeast infection on its own, but women who are more prone to yeast infections can develop one from this type of contact.
Males that have a yeast presence on their body will not increase the woman's risk for developing a yeast infection and men rarely develop yeast infections from coming into contact with a woman that has one. If you are concerned about spreading your yeast infection, you can use a condom to decrease this risk. Around 15 percent of men that have sex with a woman suffering from a yeast infection can develop an uncomfortable yeast discharge of their own. This is more likely for men that are not circumcised. Lesbian couples may have an increased risk of spreading yeast infections to their partners, but this theory does not currently have adequate research behind it.
Should your sexual partner begin to develop the signs of a yeast infection, they should visit a doctor to determine that yeast is the cause of their symptoms. Then they can begin proper treatment for the infection. Yeast infections do not pose a danger for most people aside from the general discomfort associated with the condition.
Unless it causes you pain or discomfort, you should be able to have sex while you have a yeast infection. This is not a sexually transmitted disease and it is rare that a yeast infection is passed to your partner. In most cases, yeast infections are caused by changes in your vaginal environment.
If you are currently undergoing treatment for your yeast infection, you may need to hold off on having sex until this is completed. Condoms or diaphragms are less effective when you are using suppositories or creams commonly prescribed to treat yeast infections.