You're not the only one asking "why do I keep getting yeast infections after sex?" The U.S. has about 1 million women who experience Candida vulvovaginitis or other forms of yeast infections every year. That's a lot of women wondering what caused the infection: especially if it keeps reoccurring.
Though yeast infections are not sexually transmitted diseases, they can occur indirectly from sexual contact. Unprotected sexual acts (that use toys, the sexy bits, or fingers) make a mess of the vaginal microbiome by throwing off the balance of good bacteria.
A few dated studies state men are incapable of causing yeast infections, but new research suggests unprotected sexual contact with a male partner can disturb the vaginal microbiome. As you can guess, this can cause a yeast infection or even BV. That's why after sex it's so important to have a solid clean-up routine.
"It's possible that sex with a male partner might disturb the balance of bacteria in the vagina - which might cause infection. In healthy vaginas, one type of bacteria usually dominates." —NewScientist.com
The author of the older study dismissed a partner's role in upsetting vaginal bacteria; however, he did reveal that oral sex or more specifically, spitting can cause a yeast infection if there are candida bacteria present in the saliva.
The Best Solution to Recurring Vaginal Infections?
If you're having unprotected sex with a partner there must be trust. We wish we didn't have to say it but too many women let their partners get away with too much.
Trust is built by having candid conversations about sexual health and what respectful boundaries look like. For instance, your partner shouldn't have a problem taking showers or cleaning up before sex, it's not an unreasonable request. If you want to have safe sex, make sure the person you're with cares about your health (and theirs more importantly.)
Good sexual health practices go beyond getting tested and wearing condoms.
If having these sorts of conversations is hard for you, the best bet is to wear a condom— and maybe not have intercourse with those you feel your body is unsafe with.
Understand Your Vagina
Outside of healthy sexual boundaries with your partner, one of the most effective ways to prevent a vaginal infection is to better understand your vagina and what makes her happy. Thankfully we're in a new generation where information regarding women's health is becoming more accessible.
Envy, a vaginal test kit was created by a Stanford graduate who wanted more for women's health: "the female body shouldn't be a medical mystery."
We agree it's time to end the assumptions about what could help us and instead KNOW what could help us! The at-home test market provides exceptionally accessible insight into possible causes of recurring infections or difficulty conceiving.
Maintaining a healthy microbial community requires preventative care.
Checking the pH levels can also help determine if the vaginal flora is healthy. If you are testing, a pH level of <4.5 is ideal. With some brands, such as Stix and Loyal, you can discover your pH in the comfort of your own home.
Some Best Practices for Preventative Care
Women's health isn't well understood, but that's changing quickly. We'll help you stay up to speed. We talked about condoms act as a barrier to protect the delicate vaginal flora but there's more solid advice, keep reading.
Diet: you can drastically affect how things carry on down there (e.g., odor and discharge) with a bad diet. Sugar is the favorite food of yeast infections— it thrives on it.
Hygiene: Fingers (under the fingernails), the sex bits, all skin obliviously should be clean before engaging in any pleasure play. But hygiene also matters when you're alone. Rewearing underwear with visible urine, stool, or discharge is not healthy. As long as it's not soiled, underwear can be worn for up to two days. It's also important to clean your hands and sex toys before self-pleasuring.
Clothes: The fibers and fit of clothing can also change your vaginal microbiome. It's proven that tight bottoms cause vaginal infections. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist places. That's why you can get UTIs, BV, and yeast infections when wearing tight pants or underwear.