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Are Yeast Infections Sexually Transmitted?

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Updated May 21, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Question: Are Yeast Infections Sexually Transmitted?
Ask any woman who has ever had a yeast infection and she'll agree that yeast infections are the scourge of womankind. They not only cause horrible itching and make sex painful, yeast infections have the same annoying habit as certain visiting relatives... first they refuse to go away and then they keep coming back. Many women suffer from frequent, recurring yeast infections, and most of them have absolutely no idea why.
Answer:

Although yeast infections are frequently associated with sexual activity, similar to the way that bacterial vaginosis is, they are not generally considered to be sexually transmitted diseases. It is possible for a candida (yeast) infection to be transmitted during sex, but that is a relatively rare occurrence. Far more common are yeast infections due to disruption in the normal vaginal flora or other non-sexual causes.

Many women find that they are particularly likely to experience yeast infections after finishing a course of antibiotics. This is because antibiotics can disrupt the lactobacilli that are the main component of the normal vaginal flora. These bacteria, cousins to the ones found in yogurt, produce several substances that inhibit the growth of yeast, and therefore a healthy vaginal ecosystem is considered somewhat protective against yeast infections.

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