Vaginal thrush is a common infection caused by a type of yeast called Candida Albicans. When there is an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast it results in vaginal thrush and the symptoms that this condition produces. It usually affects women but men can also be affected and it may be passed from one to another by sexual contact.
This yeast lives naturally in the mouth, throat, bowel and in small numbers in the vagina. It is mostly harmless, but symptoms can develop if yeast numbers increase. Other names for this infection are candidiasis, monilia, moniliasis, yeast infection.
Symptoms of vaginal thrush
Following are the symptoms associated with vaginal thrush:
How vaginal thrush develops
- Genital itching or burning sensation - this is the most common symptom of thrush, especially if worse before your monthly period
- Soreness or burning of the vagina during or after sex or while urinating
- A thick, white discharge with a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance and yeasty smell
- Change in the smell of your vaginal secretions
- Redness and inflammation of the vagina or vulva
- Pain - particularly if thrush is recurrent and inappropriately managed
- Small white spots on the vaginal wall
- Splits in the genital skin
A weak immune system can encourage the fungus, as can the contraceptive pill, pregnancy, diabetes, and wearing tight synthetic clothing. Although the two are often confused, thrush is quite different from cystitis, which is an inflammation of the inner lining of the bladder and urethra. Your chances of getting thrush are higher if you:
Treatment of vaginal thrush
- Wear lycra shorts, or tight nylon clothes, underwear or tight jeans
- Take certain antibiotics
- Take steroids or immuno-suppressive drugs
- Use too much vaginal deodorant or perfumed bubble bath or shower gel
- Are pregnant
- Damage the vaginal walls due to vaginal dryness during sexual intercourse or the excessive use of tampons
- Have sex with someone who has a thrush infection
can be quickly cleared up by antifungal medicines, which may be in the form of a tablet or a Pessary and cream.
Both treatments are equally effective and you can use whichever suits you best. It is advisable to have a check up after completing treatment to make sure the infection has gone. The symptoms of thrush may go away without treatment, but the genital area can get very sore.
Your partner should be treated too otherwise she/he will re-infect you.
How to avoid vaginal thrush
A few simple measures can help prevent you getting vaginal thrush
- Drink lots of water
- Do not douche or clean inside the vagina
- Avoid vaginal deodorants, bubble baths or perfumed soaps and shower gels
- Try not to wear nylon underwear, tights, or tight fitting trousers
- Change to a non-biological washing powder
- Take care with genital hygiene and wipe from ‘front to back’
- Use pads and panty liners rather than tampons
- Avoid intercourse until all symptoms have disappeared as this will encourage the lining of the vagina to heal
Thrush is a fairly harmless, though irritating condition. Occasionally the symptoms can be a sign of a more serious disorder. See your gynaecologist if you are having thrush for the first time, or if you have a fever, have blood in your urine, are pregnant, or experiencing vomiting. Also bear in mind that thrush is more likely if you have diabetes. Remember that using condoms during sex can reduce your risk of getting or passing on sexually transmitted infections