Can men get thrush? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. Both men and women can get a thrush yeast infection. The disorder is more prevalent in women (a condition known unsurprisingly as vaginal thrush), but men can also suffer from the disease. Thrush is cased by Candida albicans, a fungus that normally lives harmlessly on the skin, in the mouth (oral thrush), gut and penis. Problems occur if conditions change and the Candida fungus multiplies rapidly causing the symptoms of thrush.
What are thrush symptoms in men?
When considering thrush in men, although other parts of the body can be affected, the focus is on infections of the penis as these are unique to males. A penile yeast infection (which is often referred to by the generic term: male yeast infection or thrush penis) has the following main symptoms:
- Soreness, itching and irritation of the head of the penis (and underneath the foreskin for men who are uncircumcised).
- Balanitis or an inflammation of the head of the penis (also known as the glans.
- Burning sensation when urinating.
- Discomfort and pain during sex.
- Red patches or a rash on the penis.
- A thick discharge (similar in consistency to cottage cheese) under the foreskin or on the head of the penis with a yeasty odor.
- More on male yeast infection symptoms
Causes of thrush in men
Risk factors include poor nutrition, use of antibiotics (these can destroy healthy bacteria that are crucial to maintaining the natural balance of flora on the penis), steroid use and diabetes (due to elevated sugar levels that encourage yeast growth).
It is also possible to contract penis thrush from sexual activity with a partner who may be suffering from yeast overgrowth. However thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease as celibate men can also become infected. See more on yeast infection and sex.
In order to reduce the chance of contracting thrush, it makes sense to avoid wearing tight underwear made from synthetic materials that restrict the airflow around the penis and genitals. In addition, men should steer clear of strong, heavily perfumed soaps when washing the genital area as this may negatively upset the “good bacteria” on the penis that are crucial to stopping an overgrowth of thrush-causing Candida. It is thought that harsh chemicals can also alter the pH of the penis allowing Candida to grow opportunistically.
Treating thrush in men
Remedies such as applying natural yogurt to the penis and homeopathic products like Yeastrol can assist in restoring the natural balance of bacteria that helps keep the Candida yeast under control. It’s great for resolving the worst male thrush symptoms.
If a thrush infection is limited to the penis, the use of topical antifungal creams can normally clear up the symptoms. One of the most popular is Monistat which although designed for vaginal thrush, can be used by men.
In order to address the underlying causes of thrush in adults and avoid recurrent infections, consider purchasing this step-by-step guide to eliminating yeast infections. Your health professional may also advise a course of probiotics (especially if you have been taking antibiotics) – see sidebar on the left and read more on how to get rid of a yeast infection and specifically on treating male yeast infection.