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Sexual health and LGBT population
Living with HIV
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
One of the most common and real concerns that we hear at l'Actuel is; "Can I transmit this to my partner" or "Is my partner at risk"? Balanitis is not a sexually transmitted disease. It results from an overgrowth of organisms (typically yeast or fungi) which are normally present on the skin of the glans. These yeast are present in both circumcised and uncircumcised men. This being said, the condition most commonly becomes problematic in men who have a foreskin (i.e. have not been circumcised). The environment under the foreskin is warm and moist, and these conditions often favour the growth of the organisms that cause balanitis. In fact, skin candida albicans or mushrooms prefer growth environments that are similar to those ideal to grow edible mushrooms, that is; warmth, humidity and darkness. Obviously, the uncircumcised penis is fertile ground for the occurrence of balanitis. Candida can cause vaginal thrush in women; therefore balanitis in men is sometimes called thrush. However, candida is normally present in both men and women and a man will not automatically develop balanitis if he has intercourse with a woman with thrush.
These organisms are especially likely to multiply and cause inflammation if moisture is allowed to persist under the foreskin. This may occur if you have not washed for a couple of days, or sometimes after sexual activity (vaginal, oral or anal - with or without a condom).
Frequently, the delicate balance between your normal populations of skin bacteria, yeast and the local pH or acidity are thrown off by one or more of these activities, with the result being a loss of control over the populations of yeast and/or bacteria. Your partner's vaginal secretions may cause a local imbalance and subsequent symptoms. In contrast to poor hygiene, improper or overly zealous cleaning may be the problem... harsh/caustic soaps, detergents, shampoos or other body care products may irritate this environment. It is important to evaluate your environment in an attempt to determine the cause in your case.