Men’s Sexual Health

Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection caused by the Candida species of fungus. Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because many people already have a small amount of the fungus in their bodies. It is actually more common in men who are not sexually active. The infection can, however, be passed on through sex.

Symptoms in men include:

  • Irritation, burning or itching under the foreskin or at the tip of the penis;
  • Redness or red patches on the penis or under the foreskin;
  • A thick or thin discharge, like cottage cheese, under the foreskin;
  • Discomfort when passing urine.

If you have had thrush before and are experiencing similar symptoms, you can buy anti-fungal creams or a single dose pill (fluconazole) from your pharmacist.

You should see your GP if the infection does not improve after using these treatments.

Try to avoid having sex, or at least use a condom while you are being treated for thrush so that the infection doesn’t pass back to your partner.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (E.D.) is when a man keeps having difficulty getting or keeping an erection. The symptoms of E.D. are:

  • Being unable to get an erection, even when you are exposed to sexual situations or material, which would normally give you an erection;
  • Being unable to get an erection that does not last, or is not hard enough, for you to complete sexual intercourse

he causes of E.D. are usually a combination of physical and psychological factors.

Some physical conditions that can cause E.D include:

  • The use of medicines such as anti-depressants and drugs for high blood pressure (such as ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers);
  • Drinking alcohol, smoking and taking illegal drugs;
  • Multiple sclerosis, a stroke or conditions that affect the nerves or blood supply;
  • Diabetes;
  • Conditions affecting the erectile tissue of the penis, such as prostate cancer.

Some psychological conditions that cause E.D include:

  • Stress or anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Relationship or sexual identity issues

If you suffer from recurring erection problems it is best to speak to your doctor. They deal with patients with similar problems every day.

They will be very understanding and will do their best to find the cause of your problem and treat it.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium and is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK.

It is often referred to as the ‘silent infection’, as there are often no obvious signs or symptoms.

Symptoms in men include:

  • discharge from the penis;
  • mild irritation at the end of the penis.

Chlamydia is passed from one person to another during intimate sexual contact. You can catch chlamydia through vaginal, anal, oral sex or through having genital contact with an infected partner.

As it is common for someone with the chlamydia infection not to have symptoms, it is possible for him or her to infect a partner without realising it.

Uncomplicated chlamydia infections can usually be successfully treated using antibiotics such as azithromycin and doxycycline.

The most effective way of stopping Chlamydia being passed on is by using condoms. If you have a new partner it is a good idea for you both to be tested for STIs before having sexual intercourse.

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a gland found only in males. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells of the prostate start to divide and grow out of their normal pattern. Men with early prostate cancer may have no symptoms at all. Any enlargement of the prostate (cancerous or benign) can cause problems with passing urine. This is because the tube which carries urine (urethra) passes from the bladder to the penis through the prostate, and when the prostate becomes enlarged it may obstruct the urine tube.

Most prostate problems include:

  • Passing urine more frequently;
  • Waking from sleep to pass urine;
  • Weak stream with difficulty starting and stopping;
  • Dribbling of urine after going to the toilet.

It is important to note that most men with these symptoms do not have prostate cancer.

Apart from problems urinating, further symptoms of prostate cancer can include:

  • Blood in the urine or semen (rare);
  • Pain in the prostate (felt deep in the pelvis between the penis and back passage);
  • Hip, back or leg pain;

There are many different treatments for prostate cancer and deciding what is right is not always straightforward, as there is a fine balance between getting the right treatment and without suffering from side effects. If you have concerns about prostate cancer you should speak with your GP.