Healthcare provider holding urine sample with gloved hand to check for yeast infection

Are Yeast Infections Contagious?

Written on November 25, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Many people are familiar with yeast infections or have gotten one during their lifetime. However, if you have never gotten one and are wondering if yeast infections are contagious, read this article for everything you need to know.

What Is A Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections are vaginal infections that can cause irritation, discharge, and itchiness in the genital areas.[1] Yeast infections are also known as vaginal candidiasis and affect many women at some point in their lifetime. While men can also get penile yeast infections, this condition affects men less often.

If you have never had a yeast infection, women should be aware of some of the common symptoms, including [1]:

  • Itchiness of the vagina and vulva
  • Burning sensation while urinating or having sex
  • Redness and/or swelling of the vulva
  • Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge
  • Watery vaginal discharge

What Causes A Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections are typically caused when the balance of candida inside the vagina is thrown off. While there can be several causes of yeast infections, some of the most common include [2]:

  • Taking antibiotics: While antibiotics are sometimes needed to kill off bacteria in the body, they often kill off the good bacteria as well. If too much of the good bacteria in the vagina is killed off, the balance of bacteria can shift, causing a yeast infection.
  • Changes in hormones: Any change in hormones (due to pregnancy, the use of birth control medications, or menstrual cycle shift) can cause the balance of the candida bacteria in the vagina to shift. This shift may lead to a yeast infection as well.
  • Medical complications: If you have certain medical complications like uncontrolled diabetes, a weakened immune system, infections, and/or are undergoing certain treatments (like chemotherapy or radiation) that weaken the immune system, you may be at a greater risk for developing yeast infections.

Aim to reduce your risk of developing yeast infections by wearing looser-fitting underwear, using antibiotics only when needed, using fragrance-free soaps, keeping your genital area clean, and urinating following sex.[3]

Are Yeast Infections Contagious?

The short answer is, yes, yeast infections can be contagious. While yeast infections are not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI), as many people get yeast infections and do not engage in sexual activity, they can be transmitted via sexual acts.

If a woman has an active yeast infection and engages in sexual activity, it is possible to pass on the infection, resulting in a penile yeast infection.[4] If a man is infected with a penile yeast infection and has sex with a female, the man can also pass along the yeast infection to an uninfected female partner.[5] Signs and symptoms of penile yeast infections include moist skin on the penis and/or redness and itchiness on the penis.

It is also worth noting that a yeast infection in the mouth, also known as thrush, can occur if you give oral sex to someone who is infected.[6] Thrush is another name for an overgrowth of the candida bacteria. While thrush can also be spread through kissing, it is not likely that one will develop an active yeast infection by kissing someone with thrush. Everyone naturally has some level of candida in their body, so the act of kissing shouldn’t significantly disrupt bacteria levels. Typically, the risk of transmitting a yeast infection during sexual acts is low, as sex is typically uncomfortable if someone is contending with an active infection.

People sometimes wonder if yeast infections can be passed by sharing bath water. While this is uncommon, if you are bathing two children at the same time, and one has a yeast infection, it is advised to use separate cleaning cloths or sponges to err on the side of caution. In some cases, taking a sitz bath, or a bath with baking soda, can help those with an active yeast infection to soothe any discomfort.[7]

If a woman is breastfeeding and has a thrush infection in her breast, it is possible to pass along thrush to a baby. As a result, it is possible for breastfed babies to develop thrush in their mouths.[8] If you or your baby develops thrush, you can carry on breastfeeding while both mom and baby are treated. It is always advised to consult a qualified healthcare provider if you believe you and/or your baby may have thrush.

Support Your Health With Everlywell

Concerned about a possible yeast infection and want to speak with a healthcare provider? Everlywell makes this easy via the Women's Health Virtual Visit option. Simply book an appointment with a provider who can understand your symptoms and give guidance on next steps, which may include prescriptions, test recommendations, and more.

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  1. Yeast infection (vaginal) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. January 11, 2023. Published January 11, 2023.
  2. Professional CCM. Vaginal yeast infection. Cleveland Clinic. Published September 2, 2022. Accessed November 27, 2023
  3. Preventing vaginal yeast infections with lifestyle and diet changes. Updated October 25, 2023. Accessed November 27, 2023.
  4. Vaginal yeast infections | Office on Women’s Health. Updated February 22, 2021. Accessed November 27, 2023.
  5. Yeast infection in men: How can I tell if I have one? Mayo Clinic. Published December 21, 2022. Accessed November 27, 2023
  6. Cherney K. How do you get thrush? Healthline. Published March 8, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2023.
  7. Sitz Bath Instructions - Avant Gynecology: Atlanta's GYN and Surgical Specialists. Avant Gynecology: Atlanta’s GYN and Surgical Specialists. Published June 10, 2018. Accessed November 27, 2023.
  8. Website N. Breastfeeding and thrush. Published September 12, 2022. Accessed November 27, 2023.
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