Vaginal thrush is a common fungal infection of the vagina, and it is also known as a yeast infection. In fact, over 75% of women will experience thrush at some point in their life. Thrush is not an STI, however sexual activity can make symptoms worse. Typical symptoms of thrush include itching or burning of the vagina, white vaginal discharge, pain during sex, stinging when urinating, and swelling or redness of the vagina.
The vagina has many different bacteria and fungi that keep it healthy. Sometimes, there can be a disruption to the balance of bacteria and fungi, causing an overgrowth of candida (often candida albicans) which leads to vaginal thrush. You are more likely to get thrush if you take the contraceptive pill, are pregnant, have recently taken anti-biotics, are stressed, have a high sugar diet or are diabetic. If you have been prescribed a course of antibiotics for any reason, it is recommended to take probiotics at the same time to avoid getting thrush. Other ways to avoid thrush include:
- Wearing cotton underwear,
- Avoid synthetic pants or pantyhose,
- Wear loose fitting pants,
- Wash your underwear in hot water to help kill the candida,
- Wipe from front to back when you go the toilet
- And not using soap on your vagina.
The vagina is self-cleaning, and no soap is required (and can disrupt the pH of your vagina, causing more issues). Bath bombs can also disrupt the vaginal pH. A healthy balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can help to keep your vagina healthy. Some women also find eating yoghurt or taking pro-biotics can help restore a healthy microbiome to the vagina.
If you think you have thrush, it is recommended to see your doctor. Some women who have had thrush before will go to the pharmacy to get over-the-counter-treatment. Boric acid is also sometimes used to treat thrush, which you can read more about in Bacterial Vaginosis. If the treatment does not work and symptoms come back, it is important to see your doctor for an examination and vaginal swab to check if there may be another cause.
Some women can suffer from chronic Candida conditions, which can cause recurring thrush. If you are having trouble getting rid of thrush make sure you see a health professional.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) can often be mistaken as thrush. Read more about BV here: