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What to know about yeast infections and sex

Health
Woman and man on bed.

As a certified nurse midwife, Kathleen Augustine fields a lot of questions about yeast infections. It’s one of the most frequent conditions she treats at the Georgetown and Myrtle Beach locations of Tidelands Health Women’s Center, and she says questions about yeast infections and sex regularly arise.  
“Yeast infections are incredibly common, so women sometimes often wonder if the condition is related to sex,” says Augustine. “It’s not. Yeast infections are not known to be sexually transmitted.”

Causes

Augustine says that yeast infections are most frequently caused by antibiotic use, poor hygiene practices that cross-contaminate the vaginal area with fecal matter, irritation due to the use of douches and perfumed feminine products, excessive dampness from wet swimsuits and underlying medical issues such as uncontrolled blood sugar.

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Even though yeast infections aren’t sexually transmitted, a woman should abstain from sex once she suspects she has a yeast infection. This isn’t because she may transmit it to her partner (men are unlikely to contract yeast infections); it’s because the activity may further irritate the vaginal area, worsening the symptoms of the yeast infection.
“Any time you have symptoms of an infection, such as odor or discharge, you should stop having sex until the symptoms resolve,” says Augustine. “Otherwise, you’re just making everything worse.”

Time off

So just how long should a woman abstain? Oral medications for yeast infections take about three days to clear up the infection. Some over-the-counter treatments can take up to seven days. To be on the safe side, Augustine says she usually tells women to hold off for about a week.
“The healing time depends on what they’re using, but I usually encourage them to take the extra time so that infection is completely clear,” says Augustine.

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