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Can men get thrush?

can men get thrush
Thrush is commonly associated with women, but did you know that men can suffer from oral thrush? We look at symptoms, cause, treatment and prevention.

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

Thrush in men

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

Thrush symptoms in men

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 burning sensation
  • Irritation and itching
  • Redness or red patches under the foreskin and on the tip of the penis
  • A thick white lumpy discharge, which has a cottage cheese-like consistency, underneath the foreskin
  • An unpleasant smell
  • Difficulty pulling back the foreskin6
  • Pain when going to the toilet or during sexual intercourse7

What is thrush? A guide for men & women

A guide covering all you need to know about thrush, including causes and symptoms.

How do men get thrush?

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

What makes men susceptible to developing thrush?

There are a number of things which may make men more susceptible to developing thrush.

These include:

  • A weakened immune system

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

  • Obesity

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

  • Diabetes

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

  • Shower habits

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

Taking antibiotics can weaken the good bacteria in the body, which usually fight off the candida fungus.16

How to treat yeast infection in men

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.

How to prevent thrush

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

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

The ultimate men’s health MOT

Find out the most important tips for men to keep an eye on your health. 

Last updated: 06 May 2021

Sources

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10956-thrush
  2. https://www.canesten.co.uk/en/female/female-knowledge/thrush-in-men/
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/
  4. https://www.canesten.co.uk/en/female/female-knowledge/thrush-in-men/
  5. https://lloydspharmacy.com/blogs/womens-health/thrush-treatment-for-men
  6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/
  7. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/can-a-man-catch-thrush-from-a-female-partner/
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322722
  9. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/thrush-in-men
  10. https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/can-a-man-catch-thrush-from-a-female-partner/
  11. https://www.canesten.co.uk/en/female/female-knowledge/thrush-in-men/
  12. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/thrush-in-men#causes-of-thrush-in-men
  13. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/thrush-in-men
  14. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/thrush-in-men
  15. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/thrush-in-men
  16. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/
  17. https://lloydspharmacy.com/blogs/womens-health/thrush-treatment-for-men
  18. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/thrush-in-men
  19. https://lloydspharmacy.com/blogs/womens-health/thrush-treatment-for-men
  20. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/thrush-in-men
  21. https://lloydspharmacy.com/blogs/womens-health/thrush-treatment-for-men
 
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