So you've got a yeast infection and still want to get down? Well, yeast infections are so common that practically everyone with a vagina will experience one at some point. Remember that yeast infections can happen at any age—whether you're sexually active or not—and yeast infection symptoms range from mild discomfort and itching, to pain and swelling. But if you're sexually active (dating or in a relationship) and you have a yeast infection, sex should not be as big a priority as getting healthy and clearing the Candida infection before it puts a halt on your sex life for longer than necessary.
So, let's talk through some common questions about sex during a yeast infection, what treatment is available, and some creative strategies to help you feel satisfied while abstaining from sex (if necessary).
Can You Have Sex While You Have a Yeast Infection?
It's possible to have sex while you have a yeast infection, but doing so comes with some risks. Typically, an OB-GYN will recommend avoiding sexual intercourse, including vaginal and anal sex, while you're treating a yeast infection. While yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections, having sex while you have one can increase the chances of both passing the yeast infection to your partner and causing recurring yeast infections that don't clear up easily. Passing yeast infections between partners is possible, and, while less likely, it's also possible for men to contract a yeast infection.
Sex during a yeast infection can also be uncomfortable or downright painful if you have a vagina, especially when the delicate skin of your labia, vulva, and vagina are swollen or inflamed. The friction from sexual intercourse can exacerbate already-tender skin and increase the risk for another opportunistic infection, like bacterial vaginosis or common STIs. In fact, if you experience discomfort during sex and you suspect you might have a yeast infection, it's best to stop any further sexual activity until the infection and any recurrent symptoms are gone.
Sex During Yeast Infection Treatment
If this is your first encounter with a yeast infection, your physician might simply prescribe you an antifungal or instruct you to use an over-the-counter yeast infection treatment. If you choose to go with an OTC treatment, like Monistat, keep in mind that oil-based formulas reduces the risk of a condom's effectiveness by weakening the latex found in condoms (so they break more easily). So if you depend on condoms as your main form of birth control, and you opt to use an oil-based yeast infection cure—even if sex doesn't cause pain—you should avoid penetrative sex completely, or risk an unwanted pregnancy.
Most people report feeling some discomfort during a yeast infection, whether it's their first of fifteenth battle with Candida—it's ok if you don't feel like your usual self. Sex during a yeast infection can actually end up making it take longer to heal, so it's totally fine to take a short break until you're over it and feeling confident again.
Consider Taking a Break... And Enjoy It
There are plenty of ways to enjoy your break away from sex, and really, treating a yeast infection should only take a few days, depending on the severity. Since yeast infections are caused by excess Candida in your vagina, you can take steps to help boost the "good" bacteria and promote healthy vaginal balance.
Incorporating daily probiotics to encourage good bacterial growth and a healthy pH during a yeast infection treatment can significantly improve symptoms and even prevent recurring yeast infections. Along with probiotics, a healthy diet featuring plenty of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and amino acids, is vitally important for maintaining a healthy vaginal pH. So crack open a cookbook and eat some veggies, and if you're feeling brave in the kitchen, host a dinner party!
And don't overlook the importance of simply keeping your mind on something else! Now's the time to get involved in a hobby or start a project to allow your body enough time to heal a yeast infection. Doing this in tandem with your partner can help alleviate any frustrations related to the absence of sexual contact and may even help you find more common interests to share together. Plus you can enjoy the rising anticipation of getting back in the groove once your infection is gone.
Get Close to Your Partner in Other Ways
If you and your partner still want to be intimate while you have a yeast infection, there are alternative ways to stay close and feel the love. Give cuddling on the couch a try, as even simple physical contact can bring about emotional satisfaction. Or up the stakes and spend an evening trading massages: you may choose to focus on those pesky areas that ache often, or bring it down to a more sensual level with massage oil, mood lighting and scented candles. Kissing and breast massage are other ways of expressing your sexual desire without exacerbating a yeast infection, and sexy moments like these can serve as a way to keep you and your partner both looking forward to your next night together.
If you're feeling less than in the mood because of a yeast infection, let your partner know! Let them know what you're feeling and come up with activities that you both can enjoy while waiting for it to pass.
As you continue your yeast infection treatment, keep communication open with your partner. If they experience any itchiness, tenderness, or swelling of the skin or parts of the genitals, they may want to get checked for a yeast infection, too. Even though yeast infections aren't STIs, it's entirely possible to pass the infection between sex partners. As long as you stay on top of regular screenings and take the proper precautions when engaging in sexual activity, you can reduce the risk of a recurring yeast infection.
It's nothing to worry about and definitely not something to be ashamed of, as yeast infections are a regular part of life. That being said, it's important to talk with your doctor to find out more about your treatment options for yeast infections. The sooner you catch it, the sooner you can treat it so you're not suffering uncomfortable symptoms. Stay on top of your overall health and wellness and consider making changes to your lifestyle if you experience frequent yeast infections. Sometimes something as simple as a diet change can help combat symptoms and boost your treatment's effectiveness.