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Can Sex Toys Cause Yeast Infections?

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Updated March 11, 2009

Question: Can Sex Toys Cause Yeast Infections?
Can sex toys cause yeast infections?
Answer:

Yeast infections are incredibly common. Some studies estimate that three out of four women will get a yeast infection in their life, and many women get multiple yeast infections over their life.

While there are several known risk factors for yeast infections, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that there hasn’t been a lot of research on sex toys and yeast infections. Many sex toys are used only on the outside of the body, and these should have no impact on a yeast infection. For sex toys used internally, it’s most likely that any connection to yeast infections will be indirect. Still, it’s worth thinking about and doing what you can to avoid anything that would encourage a yeast infection. Here are some potential ways that using sex toys might encourage a yeast infection.

Some personal lubricants are thought to increase the chances of getting a yeast infection, particularly for individuals who are prone to yeast infections. Because lubricant is important to use with sex toys, it may be that a yeast infection after sex toy use is the result of the lube and not the toy.

Friction Irritation. Most sex toys that are used for penetration create significant friction, particularly with vigorous use. The friction may irritate the skin and the irritation. Friction can break down layers of the skin or vaginal mucosa and this can compromise the protective barrier that healthy tissue normally provides.

Allergic Reaction. You may have an allergic reaction to the sex toy material or the lubricant you are using with the toy. The allergic reaction can also cause irritation and lead to increased yeast infection risk as above.

Bladder Infections. Whether from friction and improper sex toy cleaning or a reaction to the sex toy material, using sex toys can cause bladder and/or urinary tract infections. Because bladder infections are treated with antibiotics, and antibiotics in turn promote the growth of vaginal yeast, this can be another indirect way that using sex toys might increase your chances of a yeast infection.

Antibiotics. Finally, if you do get a bladder infection and are prescribed antibiotics, these increase the risk of a yeast infection.

Reducing the Risk

Here are some things you can do to reduce the risk of getting a yeast infection via sex toys:
  • Avoid lubricants with glycerin.
  • To reduce irritation from friction, use plenty of glycerin-free lubricant, and reapply lubricant if using toys for a longer time period.
  • When choosing a sex toy, purchase higher quality materials that are easier to keep clean like hard plastic, metal, or silicone.
  • Always wash your toys, let them air dry, and store them in a clean place.
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