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Thrush is well known as a common yeast infection.1 And it is usually associated with women.
But can men get thrush?
In a word, yes. Thrush can affect both men and women, although it is much less commonly seen in men.2
Usually, the common yeast infection is harmless but it can be difficult to get rid of as it can keep reoccurring. It can also be very irritating and uncomfortable.3
The medical term for male thrush is candida balantis.4
Men, like women, can also suffer from oral thrush, which causes painful spots and a cloudy discolouration inside the mouth.5
The symptoms of thrush in men are similar to those for vaginal thrush in women but they usually occur around the head of the penis and under the foreskin.
These symptoms include:
A fungus called candida albicans occurs naturally in the body and especially in warm, moist areas like around the genitals.8
It is usually kept under control by the immune system and so does not normally cause any further problems.
However, some conditions can cause this fungus to multiply and grow, causing an infection.9
It is possible for men to catch thrush from a sexual partner, however, this is uncommon.10 Thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection.11
There are a number of things which may make men more susceptible to developing thrush.
Thrush is an infection which develops quickly and so if you have a weakened immune system, it may not be strong enough to fight it off.
Men who have HIV, diabetes or other immune system-weakening conditions are more at risk of developing thrush.
As well as this, if you are run down, your immune system may be weakened, making you more susceptible to a yeast infection.12
Rolls of skin and flesh are moist environments where bacteria can thrive. And so, if you are overweight, you may be more at risk of getting thrush.13
As well as weakening your immune system, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of getting thrush.
The high level of glucose in the body associated with both conditions can encourage breeding of the fungus. And people with diabetes tend to sweat more which makes for an ideal breeding ground.14
Because candida loves to grow in warm, moist conditions, thrush can develop if you do not dry your penis properly after showering.
Candida also grows on skin which is already damaged, so avoid using perfumed soaps or shower gels, which could irritate your penis.15
Taking antibiotics can weaken the good bacteria in the body, which usually fight off the candida fungus.16
The symptoms of thrush can be similar to those of an STI (sexually transmitted infection) which may need further treatment and so you should see your GP first if you suspect you have thrush.
They will be able to diagnose you and prescribe further treatment if needed.17
Once you have your diagnosis, thrush is quite simple to treat.
Male thrush treatments include a topical anti-fungal cream or an oral tablet, both of which are available over the counter from the chemist.18
It can sometimes go away on its own, but if left untreated thrush could spread to other parts of the body.19
Once treated, thrush will usually clear up within 14 days.
There are also some steps to take in order to lessen your risk of developing thrush.
As mentioned above, be sure to wash and dry your penis regularly and properly, especially underneath the foreskin.
Wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear, as this will keep your penis cool and help to prevent moisture from building up under the foreskin.20
If you or your partner has thrush, then wearing a condom will help to prevent the infection being passed on during sex.21
Last updated: 06 May 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: January 2018
Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist and Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018.
Donia has over 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.