Can You Give Your Partner a Yeast Infection?

Here's what to know about dealing with a yeast infection during sex.

When becoming intimate in a relationship, it's common to have a thousand thoughts and questions firing off in your head. And if you get a yeast infection, or commonly get them, you may wonder if a yeast infection could spread to your partner.

Vaginal yeast infections, also called vaginal candidiasis, are common infections that are caused by a type of fungus called yeast. You are more likely to get a yeast infection if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Taking hormonal contraceptives
  • Have diabetes
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Are currently taking antibiotics (or have taken them recently)

Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But it's possible to transmit a yeast infection to a partner during sex. Here's what you should know about how yeast infections spread, similar conditions, and how to treat your symptoms if you become infected.

How You Give Your Partner a Yeast Infection

Yeast infection symptoms may spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The telltale signs and symptoms of a yeast infection can include the following:

  • Redness
  • A burning sensation
  • Swelling
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Soreness
  • Vaginal discharge that is thick and white with no odor

Penile Yeast Infections

About 15% of male partners develop symptoms of an itchy rash on the penis after having unprotected sex with a partner who has the infection. People who are uncircumcised or have diabetes are more at risk for yeast infections than others.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

Two female partners could potentially transmit a yeast infection to each other. If vaginal fluids are exchanged, such as through shared sex toys, there is a small risk of transmitting yeast infections, Suzanne Fenske, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told Health.

Oral Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are most commonly spread through vaginal sex. But there are other modes of transmission that you should consider.

"If a woman or man is giving oral sex to a partner with a yeast infection, there is the chance of yeast spreading into the oral cavity, called thrush or oral thrush," Sherry A. Ross, MD, a Los Angeles-based OB-GYN and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period told Health

Symptoms like an itchy, irritated mouth with white patches or sores might indicate oral thrush.

Conditions Similar to Yeast Infections

Some conditions may look similar to yeast infections, like urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Urinary Tract Infection

Bacteria that enter the bladder cause UTIs. Symptoms of UTIs include:

  • Pain while urinating
  • Pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, which means the infection has spread to the kidneys

You can develop UTIs after sex since the urethra is right next to the vagina. So, bacteria in the vagina can transfer to the urethra and bladder, triggering an infection. However, you can't transmit a UTI to a partner.

Bacterial Vaginosis

With bacterial vaginosis ( BV), intercourse may affect the environment in the vagina. BV occurs when there is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina. Causes of that imbalance, which increase your risk of getting BV, include:

  • Douching—washing out the vagina with water or other fluids
  • Not using condoms
  • Having new or multiple partners

You can't transmit BV to a male partner, but two female partners may transfer it to each other.


Regardless of how you acquired a yeast infection, making an appointment with a healthcare provider to confirm your diagnosis is essential. If you and your partner have symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider may prescribe you treatment or recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

You can treat a yeast infection with antifungal medicine. A healthcare provider may prescribe an antifungal called fluconazole. 

Additionally, OTC medications may include the following:

  • Creams
  • Tablets
  • Ointments
  • Suppositories, which you insert into the vagina

Depending on the treatment, you may need one or daily doses for up to seven days. If you get regular yeast infections, you may need to take antifungal medication regularly for up to six months.

Having Sex With a Yeast Infection

And what if you have a yeast infection and want to have sex? Experts agreed that abstinence would make it easier to manage your infection. Not to mention, intercourse will most likely be uncomfortable or painful when symptoms are flaring up. 

"If you know you have a vaginal infection, you should not have sex until it is completely treated," said Dr. Ross.

A Quick Review

You can transmit a yeast infection to your partner during sex. So, if you suspect you may have a yeast infection, it's best to consult a healthcare provider to confirm your diagnosis. 

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and bacterial vaginosis can have similar symptoms to yeast infections. A healthcare provider will also be able to offer guidance on treatment.

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  1. Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections.

  2. Office on Women's Health. Urinary tract infections.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial vaginosis fact sheet.

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