Men and thrush
You might have heard your partner or friends talk about thrush, and thought of it as a problem for women “down there”. While thrush is a condition usually associated with women, it can affect men too. It’s caused by an infection with the fungus Candida albicans, a micro-organism that lives on warm and moist parts of the body.
Candida yeast lives on our skin but is kept under control. However, sometimes our bodies get a bit out of balance and an overgrowth of this yeast can lead to thrush. You may also hear the term “penile yeast infection”, which is another name for thrush on the penis.
What does thrush look like?
In men, thrush develops around the genital area. It is more common for men who have a foreskin to develop thrush, as the foreskin can lock in heat and moisture. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
- Irritation, a burning feeling and inflammation of the penis head
- Itching and soreness
- Redness, and/ or small red spots
- Discharge under the foreskin, or on the tip of the penis
- An unpleasant, yeasty smell
Causes of male thrush
Because thrush occurs on the penis, it’s often assumed that it’s passed on through sexual activity. While this may happen in some cases, men are more likely to get thrush due to factors that cause the fungus to multiply, such as poor personal hygiene, or when the immune system is compromised.
Anything that weakens your immune system can increase your likelihood of developing thrush. Certain medicationsstress, anxiety and excessive worrying can also affect your immune system, as can poor sleep or illness.
Thrush relief and prevention
If you believe you have thrush, it is important to first talk to your doctor.
Following is a list of strategies you can employ to help manage thrush, and reduce your risk of suffering from this unpleasant condition.
- Avoid Sex: If you have thrush, avoid having sex until the infection has cleared up, or use a condom. It would also be wise to follow the same rules if your partner has thrush
- Try anti-fungal creams: There are a range of anti-fungal creams and ointments available to treat male thrush, some of which are available over the counter
- Get probiotics: A probiotic supplement contains beneficial bacteria to help support your immune system. Natural yoghurts that contain Lactobacilli may also help to restore balance
- Drink water, sleep and eat well: To help prevent thrush, take care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep, eating more nutrient dense whole foods, and drinking plenty of water
- Limit alcohol and sugar: Drink alcohol not at all or in moderation, and minimise your intake of high sugar, high glycemic index foods and drinks that can elevate your blood sugar levels
- Clean your penis: Clean your penis thoroughly every day when you bath or shower. If you are uncircumcised, pay special attention to cleaning under and around your foreskin. It is best to also avoid perfumed soaps and shower gels, as they can irritate the skin
- Don’t stress: Improve your management of stress, and look for ways to counteract the harmful effects of stress on your immune system, such as relaxation techniques and meditation
- Avoid tight underwear and pants: Thrush grows in warm, moist conditions, so if you wear tight underwear or jeans and sweat often, you may be at higher risk. Avoid synthetic materials if thrush is a problem for you. Materials that breathe easily are a better choice
- Change out of sweaty clothes: After a gym session we don’t always bother showering right away, but if you are prone to thrush then it is recommended. Change out of sweaty clothes and underwear to dry up and cool things down – down there
References available on request