How long does a yeast infection last?
How long a yeast infection sticks around really depends on what’s happening in your vagina and your personal preferences in terms of yeast infection treatment. If your symptoms are mild to moderate, you can use a short-course antifungal medication for one to seven days, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. These come in a cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository and are available either over-the-counter or with a prescription. Most of these options will clear up the average infection in under a week.2
Another method to consider is a one-and-done oral medication like fluconazole (Diflucan), a single-dose treatment your doctor can prescribe to treat a yeast infection. But if symptoms become severe or you’re prone to multiple infections, your doctor may recommend a more involved treatment plan such as more oral doses of fluconazole or alternative treatments that have been shown to help some people when other options don’t work, like boric acid, nystatin, or flucytosine, which you apply directly in the vagina, per the CDC. No matter what kind of yeast infection treatment you pursue, it’s incredibly important to finish the whole course of medication and to closely follow your doctor’s plan, even after your symptoms have cleared up. Otherwise, that pesky yeast can claw its way back into microbe domination.
Can I have sex if I’m treating a yeast infection?
Technically, yes, you can have sex while treating a vaginal yeast infection, but it’s definitely complicated and something you’ll probably want to avoid. Here’s why: If you’re treating a yeast infection with a vaginal suppository, ointment, or cream and decide to have sex, you run the risk of making your medication less effective—and possibly prolonging the infection.
Oral medications also pose a problem because you still have to worry about further irritating your vagina during sex and making yourself more susceptible to other infections. Penetrative acts tend to involve a lot of friction, which can create micro-abrasions in your vagina if it’s already irritated, Jacques Moritz, M.D. an ob-gyn at Mount Sinai, tells SELF. Those tiny tears can cause your poor vagina to feel even more inflamed. Plus, micro-tears in your vagina can make you more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections because they create openings for illness-causing pathogens to enter more easily, Dr. Moritz says.
Plus, there’s the issue of potentially passing a yeast infection to your partner, which is reason enough to wait. (More on this below.)
Are yeast infections contagious?
Let’s get right to the burning question: Is a yeast infection contagious? Yes and no. It’s not really “contagious” in the way we normally think of something being contagious, and here’s why: Your body chemistry can react to the overgrowth of yeast or bacteria present within your partner’s genitals or mouth, transferring yeast and causing your own yeast to grow. But this is not the same thing as spreading a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to Planned Parenthood. In the case of an STI, viruses or bacteria that are not naturally present in your body are introduced, causing a host of symptoms.
Practically speaking, though, you can pass a yeast infection to a partner, which is a big reason to wait to have sex. Another way you might transmit yeast is through kissing if you have an overgrowth of candida fungus in your mouth (known as oral thrush). Again, this is possible, but not likely. That’s because we all have candida present in our mouth, but it only becomes thrush when it overgrows. Otherwise, generally healthy people are not at an increased risk of developing thrush from close contact, per the Cleveland Clinic.