Page 1 of 7
Most women will suffer from thrush at some point in their lives but for some it can be a recurring problem.
Vaginal Thrush is an overgrow of yeast that can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms like itching and soreness. Thrush can be extremely uncomfortable and if you don't know what's happening it can also be stressful.
Thrush is a sexually transmitted infection but can develop after having sex. Thrush can develop on both male and female genitals. It's a very common cause of vaginal discharge and three out of four women will have thrush at some point in their lives. See video on vaginal discharge.
Thrush is usually caused by the yeast fungus candida albicanas. This yeast lives harmlessly on the skin and in the mouth, gut and vagina. Normally it is kept under control by naturally occurring harmless bacteria. Occasionally conditions change and yeast increases rapidly, causing signs and symptoms. This is commonly known as thrush, thrush infection, candida and sometimes monila.
Predisposing factors for thrush are pregnancy, diabetes, oral contraceptives and menstruation.
The most common symptoms are itching, redness and soreness in the area around the opening of the vagina (the vulva) and inside the vagina. There may also be vaginal discharge which can be thick and white, cheesy or watery in appearance.
Although most women diagnose thrush themselves and treat with over the counter medications, misdiagnosis is common. You can only be certain you have thrush if you have a test. If you think you have thrush you can speak to your doctor, pharmacist or women's wellness clinic. You can have a test as soon as you have signs or symptoms. A test can be done at a genitourinary clinic (GUM) or sexual health clinic, at your general practice or at some contraceptive and young peoples clinics.
Thrush can be simply and effectively treated using antifungal drugs. Treatments are available in pessaries, creams and capsules that can be swallowed. There are a number of other remedies and treatments for thrush. Not all of these treatments are supported by research but many women find they do help.
Self Help and Prevention
The following may be helpful if you are prone to vaginal yeast infections:>
- Avoid perfumed bath products and soaps when bathing
- Do not use vaginal deodorants or scented perfumes
- Wear cotton underwear or underwear with a cotton gusset.
- Avoid tight jeans or pants.
- Wipe from front to back when going to the bathroom
- Include yoghurt in your daily diet.
- More on self help measures
Next: Thrush Symptoms
Dr Pixie answers some frequently asked questions about thrush and vaginal discharge.