Q&A Can I Transmit Jock Itch During Sex?

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QUESTION: I have jock itch, can my girlfriend get if we have unprotected sex or if she gives me oral sex?

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The fungus that causes jock itch can be harbored in sheets and towels so until your infection is cleared, it’s a wise idea to steer clear of sharing bath towels, clothes or even sleeping naked together in bed lest your partner run the low, but real risk of becoming infected.

“Jock itch” is a term commonly used to describe a fungal infection called tinea cruris (see why it’s called “jock itch” now? Not only is it a more descriptive term, but it’s easier to remember and to pronounce).

There’s A Fungus Among Us

Jock itch is not normally considered a sexually transmissible infection, or STI. However, just because it’s not commonly grouped in the family of chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes doesn’t mean that it can’t be transmitted during sex.

The fungus that causes jock itch can absolutely be transferred during sex – though it isn’t always.

In some research, sex workers have been found to have higher rates of jock itch, which is more typically seen among men and only rarely among women.

It’s more easily transmitted during sexual intercourse (vaginal sex or anal sex) because of how close two people’s groins get (and jock itch tends to “live” in the area of a man’s groin).

Wearing a condom does not prevent the transmission of jock itch. The best course of action is to get treated and get better before having oral, vaginal or anal sex.

Even hand jobs pose a potential risk of infection if your partner were to then touch her own genitals.

Take Precautions

The risk of transmitting jock itch during sex is often considered low to moderate, but it’s still a risk. At the very least, it’s important to talk with your partner about having jock itch so that she can make an informed decision about how they want to adjust sex together in the mean time.

The fungus can even be harbored in sheets and towels so, until your infection is cleared, it’s a wise idea to steer clear of sharing bath towels, clothes or even sleeping naked together in bed lest your partner run the low, but real risk of becoming infected.

The good news is that jock itch is curable.

You can also take steps to reduce the risk of getting it again by toweling off well after you shower, wearing clean clothes to work out in (rather than reusing the same sweaty clothes from a previous workout) and putting socks on before stepping into your underwear.

The latter is because the fungus can be transferred from a man’s bare feet to his groin as he steps through the leg holes of his underwear.

Finally, you absolutely get bonus points for being a smart, caring, attentive partner. Not everyone would think to ask such a question so good for you for being considerate about your partner’s sexual health.

Next Question: Living With Genital Warts & HPV

I am being treated for genital warts by my doctor. Plenty of websites say “try to avoid getting HPV”, but what do you do when you have it? What do I do now to have a romantic life? I plan to tell potential partners about my warts, and I worry that any potential relationship is going to be over right there. I don’t want my sex life to be over. How do I ever have a relationship again? Help!

Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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