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There are loads of products on the market directed towards women who are struggling with yeast infections or "feminine itch." These products are lining the shelves of supermarkets and pharmacies everywhere, and advertisements for them have infiltrated magazines, radio ads, and TV commercials. One may wonder why, then, there is not the same amount of attention and product selection for men dealing with the very same problem? Yes, men can get infections too. This may come as a shock for some men - probably because nobody is talking about it - and it can often go undiagnosed, because men simply don't know what it is and may ignore the symptoms. Learn more about how infections affect men, why it is important to treat the infection, and how to keep the penis healthy.
Aren't yeast infections just for women?
This is a common misconception held by both men and women. While it is a type of infection that tends to be more common in women, men can and do develop it, too. Symptoms can present dramatically differently between the two sexes, and for many women, it is glaringly obvious when they have a yeast infection. However, for men, the symptoms may be more subtle. Some men are even asymptomatic - meaning they have no symptoms at all of a infection - but they are still carrying the infection and can pass it unknowingly to their partners.
How does one catch a yeast infection?
A yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, moniliasis, or thrush, is an infection cased by a tiny organism called candida albicans. This organism is always found on the skin, in the mouth, and in the intestinal tract of both men and women, and it generally lives a peaceful existence without bothering anybody. However, sometimes the yeast multiplies a little too rapidly and begins to irritate the skin, create a discharge, or cause other uncomfortable symptoms that make this otherwise invisible organism become very visible to the carrier. Though the sudden outbreak often makes one believe they have "caught" a yeast infection, one doesn't actually catch it, because the yeast is already present in and on the body. Rather, something has happened to disrupt the body's PH or the immune system, which typically keeps the numbers in check.
What contributes to the infection?
1. Being on antibiotics: Though an antibiotic wipes out whatever is causing the illness in the body, it also targets "good bacteria" that serve useful functions in the body. For some people, antibiotics get rid of good bacteria, allowing yeast to thrive and an infection to start.
2. Poor immune system: A compromised immune system makes the body susceptible to all sorts of infections - including yeast infections. Individuals who have chronic illnesses or immunodeficiency are more prone to infections. Conditions such as mono, Lyme disease, HIV, chronic stress and an underactive thyroid gland can all lead to an increase in yeast.
3. Diabetes: Men and women who are diabetics are also more prone to chronic yeast infections. The elevated sugar levels in the urine of a diabetic increase the chance the infection will be localized in the vagina or around the penile area.
4. Sex with an infected partner: Though a yeast infection is not a type of sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed from one infected partner to another during sex, which is why it is so important to seek treatment.