Do Vaginal Yeast Infections Spread Through Sex?
Vaginal yeast infection is commonly known as candidiasis. It is a condition frequently encountered in clinical practice and is caused by a fungus called as Candida. The condition is associated with severe burning, swelling and irritation of the vagina and the vulva.
As per the statistics given by the Mayo Clinic, 3 out of every 4 women in the US suffer from vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives. Moreover, if a woman has suffered from it once, she has an increased likelihood of suffering from the condition again.
Causes of vaginal yeast infection
The fungus Candida is naturally found in the environs of the vagina. However, its growth is kept under check by a commensal bacterium called as lactobacilli. Whenever a condition arises where the lactobacilli are destroyed or cannot function optimally, the growth of Candida becomes unchecked. This leads to the symptoms of candidiasis.
The strand of Candida which is responsible for the majority of vaginal yeast infections is called as Candida albicans. However, if a woman is suffering from recurrent infections despite taking adequate treatment, other strands of Candida can be considered.
The optimal functioning of lactobacilli present in the vagina is seen in following conditions:
- Taking antibiotics. This may kill the lactobacilli leaving Candida grow unchecked.
- Pregnancy. Hormones released during pregnancy may affect the pH of the vagina leading to damage to the lactobacilli.
- Uncontrolled diabetes. Too much of sugar provides a favorable environment for the rampant growth of Candida.
- Weak immunity of the concerned woman.
- Hormonal changes during menstruation.
- Anxiety and stress.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Taking oral contraceptive pills.
- Thyroid or other endocrinal problems.
- Corticosteroid therapy.
Symptoms of vaginal yeast infection
The common symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include:
- A thick white vaginal discharge with a consistency of cottage cheese.
- Itchiness of vagina and vulva
- Swelling of the vagina and vulva
- Redness of the vagina and vulva
Does vaginal yeast infection spread through sex?
According to experts, although the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection resemble that of sexually transmitted diseases, it does not spread through sex.
Can vaginal yeast infection increase the risk of contracting other STDs?
Generally, vaginal yeast infection does not increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. However, there are times where intense itchiness of the area may lead to scratching. Scratches present on the vagina and vulva may increase the chances of contracting HIV. The microscopic tears formed due to scratching can increase the risk of STDs to a certain degree.
A study done in this regard found that women suffering from HIV infection are more likely to have had yeast infections. Therefore, it has been suggested that women who are at a high risk of contracting STDs should prevent the development of vaginal yeast infection or to treat it as soon as possible.
Should women suffering from vaginal yeast infection avoid sex?
It is not necessary for a woman with vaginal yeast infection to avoid sex. However, it is advisable that the man having sex with such a woman should use barrier contraceptive. This is because:
- 15% of men having unprotected sex with a woman suffering from candidiasis may develop an uncomfortable rash on their penis. This is especially true for men who are not circumcised.
- Small tears present on the vaginal or vulval walls may provide an easy entry for microbes that cause sexually transmitted diseases.
Treatment of vaginal yeast infection
Treatment of vaginal yeast infection includes use of anti-fungal creams or suppositories. Oral anti-fungal medicines may be prescribed in certain cases.