There are many kinds of vaginal infections that a woman can experience in her life. It’s thought that three quarters of women will experience Thrush and around a third will get Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). These infections are fairly common and are both relatively easy to treat.
Thrush is a yeast infection that’s caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This is why Thrush is sometimes referred to as Candidiasis. This fungus naturally exists in the body and can usually be found in warm, moist conditions, such as the mouth,
vagina and intestines. However, if the Candida fungus grows too much, a yeast infection can develop. Both men and women can contract Thrush, but it’s not considered a sexually transmitted infection.
In the vagina, this fungus is usually kept under control by the ‘good’ bacteria, Lactobacillus. However, certain changes that occur within your body can alter the rate at which Candida grows. These include taking antibiotics, hormone changes during pregnancy and certain types of contraception. Taking antibiotics will cause Thrush in around a third of women because they can kill off the Lactobacillus in the vagina.
If you think you have Thrush, the symptoms can sometimes be confused with those of BV. If you’re unsure which infection you have, you could read our article on Thrush or BV or you could consult a doctor.
Does Thrush always have discharge?
Despite discharge being one of the most common symptoms of Thrush, every woman is different, so you may not necessarily experience it. Some women may not experience any symptoms at all, despite having the infection. If you don’t have any symptoms, Thrush can clear up by itself and doesn’t have any long-term health impacts if left untreated, unlike BV. However, Thrush can be passed on to men, so it’s important to have your Thrush infection treated before having sex, otherwise your partner may become infected too. If you have a female partner, sharing sex toys could transfer the infection.
If your partner has had Thrush and you’re unsure whether you may have it too, a doctor could perform a swab test to determine if you’ve contracted the infection.
What does Thrush discharge look like?
If you do experience discharge with Thrush, it usually has a thick consistency and is white or yellow in colour. It doesn’t normally have a smell (unlike BV which has a very strong fishy odour); however, it could smell slightly yeasty.
What are the symptoms of Thrush?
Below, we’ve listed some of the most common symptoms of Thrush. You may experience most of these or none of these. The symptoms for women are:
● Thick white or yellow vaginal discharge
● Itchiness and soreness, particularly around the vaginal entrance
● Vaginal swelling (uncommon)
● Stinging or burning sensation when you go for a wee
The symptoms for men are:
● Redness, itching or burning on the head of the penis and under the foreskin
● White discharge that resembles cottage cheese
● An unpleasant smell
● Difficulty pulling back the foreskin
● Pain and irritation when you have sex or urinate
How to treat vaginal Thrush
Once you’ve determined that you do have Thrush, you should seek to get it treated. In some cases, it might clear up by itself, but it’s best to treat it if you can.
You can use anti-fungal medication to get rid of the infection; however, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice and treatment. Thrush medication usually comes in the form of tablets, pessaries (which are inserted into the vagina) or a
If your Thrush keeps coming back, you may need to take treatment for a longer period of time. Your doctor will advise the best course of action. They may also be able to identify why it keeps returning.
You could help to prevent Thrush from coming back by doing the following:
● Wear loose clothes and cotton underwear that allow the skin to breathe. This could prevent the yeast from developing in large amounts
● Avoid using overly fragranced soaps in the vaginal area that contain lots of chemicals
● Wash your hands after going to the toilet and always wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria from spreading
● Avoid vaginal sex immediately after anal sex
● Wash your vagina using a feminine wash after sex
● Ensure that you’re well lubricated during sex to avoid rubbing, which could lead to Thrush