Complications of vaginal thrush

The main complications of thrush are:

  • the treatment doesn’t work
  • the thrush keeps coming back
  • depression and sexual problems
  • penis problems in male partners

When thrush treatment fails to work

Anti-thrush medication fails to work in up to one in five cases. You can tell if the treatment hasn’t worked if your symptoms don’t clear up within 7-14 days.

There are several reasons why treatment for thrush may not work. It may be that you have a different infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, which is the most common cause of an abnormal vaginal discharge.

You should visit your GP if your treatment doesn’t work. They may run further tests to confirm your diagnosis and offer you some alternative treatment.

When thrush keeps coming back

If you have recurrent yeast infections, your GP may run further tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions. They may suggest trying a longer course of anti-thrush treatment or they may give you a prescription you can use whenever the symptoms return. 

Some research has suggested that a strategy known as ‘maintenance therapy’ can help reduce the reccurrence of thrush. Maintenance therapy involves taking an anti-thrush oral treatment or pessaries on a weekly or monthly basis for up to six months.

Maintenance therapy has been shown to reduce the reccurrence of thrush during treatment. It may also help to protect against thrush after treatment has stopped. 

Depression and sexual problems

Depression and psychosexual problems, such as anxiety about having sex, can sometimes develop if you have recurrent thrush. Your GP will be able to advise you about specialist treatments, such as counselling

More useful information and advice about sexual health problems is available in the sections about good sex and sexual health.

Male thrush

In rare cases, male partners of women who have thrush can develop a condition called candidal balanitis, which is where the head of the penis (glans) becomes inflamed.

In these cases, a course of antifungal medication will usually be recommended.

Read about how to prevent thrush

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