Please please me. But don't turn me into a loaf of bread.
June 9, 2010 7:36 AM   Subscribe

You are not our doctor, but my husband's doctor insists that it's impossible that he's been giving me yeast infections from cunnilingus. Evidence suggests otherwise. Have you experienced this before, and were you able to stop the vicious and yeasty cycle?

Every time my husband goes down on me, I get a raging yeast infection. There's a pretty obvious and direct correlation: inevitably, I'll get itchy, wonder what's up, and realize that he went down on me about a week before. Monistat (or, if I'm feeling motivated enough to go to the doctor, diflucan) always clears it up without a problem, and this isn't a huge part of our sexual repertoire--in part because of this problem--but, well, I'd like it to be, and I'm getting frustrated by the whole thing.

My husband has celiac disease and, in the past, has had symptoms of oral thrush, which he's never been really treated for. A few months ago, he went to the doctor to ask about this--after I'd gotten yet another yeast infection from oral. The doctor looked at his mouth, decided that the yellow stuff on the back of his tongue wasn't yeast related, told him to use a tongue scraper, and then told him that I'm probably just prone to yeast infections and that we should use a dental dam from now on.

I was a little flummoxed by this, and a bit surprised that the doctor didn't just give him a diflucan (especially as I've had plenty of doctors just hand them to me whenever I've gone on antibiotics as a prophylactic; I'm surprised they'd be so reluctant!). I've only ever had vaginal yeast infections under two conditions: when I was on antibiotics, or after oral. I never seem to get them from intercourse alone, or from manual sex, or just normally. In fact, I never even had one until I was twenty or so, after he went down on me for the first time. However, the doctor told my husband that it was probably just "the way that I am" (for what it's worth, I've never been with another partner, so I'm not sure if it would happen with someone else). I do sometimes get tinea versicolor (something I've had in the summer since childhood)--my husband told the doctor this, and he seemed to take this as confirmation that the problem is all on my end, so to speak.

We've tried using saran wrap as a dental dam, which I guess was, like, uh, kind of okay. But sort of not really. A week ago, we ended up getting caught up in the heat of things, sixty-nined (how do you even use a dental dam if the woman is on top?!), and here I am, again, with a raging yeast infection.

I've asked my husband to go to the doctor and ask for a diflucan directly. But thanks to his doctor, he's now extremely skeptical that it will make a difference, and thinks I'll just have to resign myself to a dental dam (ugh) every time.

Have any mefites ever experienced something like this, from either end? Is it possible that some women are just, like, set up to be yeast machines any time a guy goes down on them? If you've been in this situation, did fluconazole or another pharmaceutical help? Is there anything we can do (either individually or both) as a prophylactic measure so that this doesn't happen any more?

Oh, and before you say that he needs to cut out all bread products/sugar, he doesn't eat anything with yeast in it already, and he has a ton of food allergies. If we cut out any more food groups, he'd probably starve to death.

Please hope me, metafilter. I love oral sex, and this is making it suck.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I suggest (lovingly) pressuring him to get a second opinion.
posted by inmediasres at 7:46 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing the second opinion. "Yellow stuff" at the back of the tongue sounds like it could be yeast, and in fact when I had a raging case of thrush (which went down in my throat - baaaad situation) when immunocompromised, this was one of the symptoms.

Get a second or even third opinion, and in the meantime, I believe stores like Good Vibrations and Toyland sell dam-type thingies that are better than Saran Wrap. Also, try an after sex sponge-off (NOT NOT NOT douching) with a mix of plain vinegar and water.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:49 AM on June 9, 2010

I wonder if your gynecologist could help. A good gyne would be well aware of the possibility he's giving you yeast infections somehow, and might be willing to put him on diflucan just to see if it helps.

Barring that, see if you can get him to use tea tree oil mouthwash regularly. That might cut down on the yeast in his mouth enough that it won't bother you any more.

If it were me and nothing else worked, I'd just keep a supply of one-day yeast treatments on hand and use it right after oral as a matter of course. Or you could get tea tree oil suppositories which might work if you put one in before the yeast infection gets to the point of "raging". Also, probiotics for both of you might not be a bad idea (or just you, if he can't take them.)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:50 AM on June 9, 2010

A second opinion and a course of diflucan for your husband certainly couldn't hurt, especially if he is exhibiting oral thrush symptoms. However, there was a reputable study a few years back that found no correlation between detection of yeast in males and recurrent yeast infections in their female partners. (The article itself is subscribers-only, but here is a summary.) It seems that for some women, the application of saliva to the vulva through oral or manual sex is enough to upset the yeast/bacteria balance in the vagina and trigger yeast infection symptoms. I would try sponging off with a vinegar/water mixture (about 1 tsp. vinegar to 1 cup of water) after sex, as Rosie M. Banks suggested.
posted by purplemonkie at 8:26 AM on June 9, 2010

Regular ol' Listerine will kill fungus. A good gargle of that just before the deed should take care of it. Also, beware the hands! Our hands are typically covered in dormant fungal spores. Your husband's mouth may be being blamed for that which his hands are delivering. A thorough hand-washing is a must.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 8:29 AM on June 9, 2010

I'm not a doctor, but I did go down on a medical student once in college. And more relevantly, I've been married to a woman for 12 years.

Mrs. PBZM is a fan of Sweet Spot cleansers/wipes. They're specifically designed to keep a woman's "sweet spot" fresh and pH balanced. This issue seems to be much better understood outside of the US, but the vagina, when it's within it's normal pH range, keeps itself pretty clean and healthy and DELICIOUS. This is also the pH range that is really, really hostile to yeast infections.

If you're using any kind of regular soaps/cleansers available on the market, they've probably thrown your spot's pH out of the healthy range, which makes it easier for yeast infections to get established. This is also when issues of odor can arise. A healthy, pH balanced pussy doesn't smell bad.

I personally prefer the unscented products, but their scented ones are all natural. Still, when I'm going down on Mrs. PBZM, I'm looking to taste pussy, not grapefruit.

But yeah, Sweet Spot this Tha Bomb DIGGETY. I don't know if you're husband's cunnilingus is the cause, but if you get your sweet spot healthy and at it's proper pH level, the issue might just clear itself up.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:32 AM on June 9, 2010 [11 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
Forgot to note that both of us eat yogurt daily and started on a acidopholus regimen when we first noticed this problem, to no avail. When I've had yeast infections in the past, probiotics have done little to impact them. I do have some culturelle which I should probably be better about taking, and might try to nudge the husband into taking it, too. Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:32 AM on June 9, 2010

It may not be yeast in his mouth.. There appears to be some evidence that due to the quantity of saliva that ends up in the vagina during oral sex, the PH balance of the vagina changes, thus making an infection more likely.

Perhaps you can try using something like RepHresh after the next episode of oral sex.
posted by eas98 at 8:35 AM on June 9, 2010

This would happen to me with my 1st husband, and he had terrible oral hygiene -- mossy teeth, etc. I haven't had a yeast infection since divorcing him nearly 20 years ago. YMMV, but the correlation was absolute for me.
posted by kidelo at 9:51 AM on June 9, 2010

Your husband's doctor is wrong. Call your GYN, who can and should happily prescribe for both you and your husband. My GYN always did this as a matter of course for me when I was dealing with thrush.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:25 AM on June 9, 2010

Does he brush his teeth before going down on you? I know he isn't eating anything with yeast in it, but that's not really the issue -- the issue is that any kind of natural sugar (even left over in his mouth from eating fruit) could be enough to tip the balance in your vagina towards YEAST.
posted by telegraph at 10:27 AM on June 9, 2010

I noticed that you said that acidophilis treatments aren't helping..Is it possible that it could be Bacterial Vaginosis? There were some recommendations for applying tea tree oil, which is great after it's been diluted with warm water, you can apply it directly to the to the inflamed areas. Also as mentioned, taking a bath and putting apple cider vinegar in the bath helps clear up BV wonderfully. If you do have BV, applying the vinegar will BURN when you first apply it then instant relief. Also, in my experience, the fastest way to clear up a yeast infection is to take a tampon, soak it in some PLAIN yogurt, insert, repeat as needed. Sounds gross, but works like a charm. These are just some things I have tried over the years that have worked for me.
posted by heatherly at 11:08 AM on June 9, 2010

It definitely sounds like he could have thrush, and could be causing the yeasties that way. Another thing to consider though is that yeast thrives in warm, wet enviros. And that enviro is considerably warmer and wetter after he goes down on you than it is otherwise. I'd suggest showering immediately after the act and seeing if that has any effect on the development of the infection.

Not a little pleased that, entirely by coincidence, the first answer this sockpuppet gives is 'eponysterical.'
posted by Seahorse, rode hard and put away wet at 11:22 AM on June 9, 2010

Speaking not as a doctor but as a husband I would be not be happy with the correlation* and would seek a second opinion.

*Yes, "Correlation does not imply causation" but this is your wife's health we're talking about, no place for philosophical arguments.
posted by tommasz at 1:45 PM on June 9, 2010

If you live in Canada, diflucan is now available over the counter (I think Monistat puts it out, maybe Canestan). You can find it with all the other yeast infection treatments.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 2:45 PM on June 9, 2010

I'd say go see a gynocologist since they should have more knowledge about that kind of stuff. I think you should figure this out. Monistat might work now but it will get less effective over time, and you don't want that to happen!
posted by dustoff at 2:46 PM on June 9, 2010

I don't know enough about this to comment on what could help on his end, but I do have some experience with DIY yeast-infection treatment. As ifdss#9 commented, applying some variety of natural anti-yeast treatment after oral sex could help head off an infection. Oddly enough, garlic has yeast-killin' properties, and I have treated yeast infections with nothing more than garlic before. It sounds really weird, but, uh, you could just pop a peeled garlic clove in your vagina after oral sex, and ideally leave it in for a few hours. (Overnight is best; garlic cloves don't really stay in if you're walking around. The plus side of that, though, is that you don't need to freak out about it "getting stuck" or "getting lost." The website where I found this tip recommended wrapping the clove in cheese cloth and tying it off with a string you can use to pull it out, but I thought that sounded silly and unnecessary.)

On the subject of yogurt: eating yogurt is well and good, but direct application of yogurt is even more effective. Obviously it's really important for it to be plain, unflavored, non-sugared yogurt in this case! One website I saw recommended freezing the yogurt in the fingers of gloves, which puts it in a form that is both solid and shaped for easy insertion. I guess the cold might be nice if the infection were raging, but as prophylaxis... brrr.

My source for all this stuff is, by the way, this website, which has about a million ideas.

I have no idea what effect it would have to use these things on a regular basis (as opposed to occasional treatments) but they're definitely worth trying if the ideas for clearing things up on your husband's end don't pan out.
posted by mandanza at 3:32 PM on June 9, 2010

This might be weird, but I've got a couple dental dams I got as raffle prizes* hanging around. I'd be happy to send them to you.

Memail me your address if you're interested.

*I tend to win sex toys and porn and sex supplies as raffle prizes. Just lucky, I guess.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:32 PM on June 9, 2010

I really, really wish you'd made a throwaway email account for this post... Anyway, I have this exact problem. I once found a single research article talking about a study where they found that having received oral sex was positively correlated with recurrent yeast infections, but the presence of yeast in the guy was not. I haven't found the article again yet, but here's a news article that refers to the results:

Doctors have been unhelpful, (aside from prescribing diflucan for me, which I love). After reading that article, I decided not to bother with trying to treat him. First we just stopped having oral sex. Then we tentatively tried again, and we've figured out that the key factor is minimizing my exposure to his saliva. And that's as detailed as I'm going to get right now because already this feels way too TMI, but I've been where you are and it was awful being so lost and confused and it's really nice to know you're not the only one going through this.

Oh, and I've only had this problem with this boyfriend, so it's definitely something to do with his saliva and not just the act itself. Except I have no idea what it is or how to fix it.
posted by quirks at 9:33 PM on June 9, 2010

A girlfriend I used to have told me this boy she used to see really liked to drink beer while he went down on her and that gave her a yeast infection. Also, instead of using Saran Wrap as a dental dam, please consider cutting an unrolled condom and using that as a dental dam.
posted by Sully at 12:28 AM on June 10, 2010

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