Thrush: What Is It and Do You Have the Signs?

The majority of women will deal with a bout of thrush at some point in their lives, and it is a common infection. Thrush is caused by a yeast fungus which is known as Candida spp. There are a number of treatments available, including an oral tablet and pessaries which are inserted into the vagina to treat the infection internally. There is also an anti-thrush cream which staves off the itching symptoms which are commonly associated with this problem. Although treatment is usually effective, some women repeatedly develop thrush. Small numbers of candida spp live on the skin and in the vaginal area, which are normally harmless. Your immune system generally stops the bacteria from developing further, but due to the nature of where the bacteria thrives it can sometimes develop because the vagina is a warm and moist environment where bacteria can develop. Other areas where candida infections can be caused include the groin, mouth and nappy area in infants, for the same reason.


The second most common reason for vaginal discharge is thrush, with the first being bacterial vaginosis. The discharge from the vagina is usually creamy and white, but it can also be thin and watery. This can lead to itchiness and redness, as well as pain and discomfort in this area. You may find that having sex or passing urine is painful as well. Although thrush doesn’t harm the vagina, it can be uncomfortable – it sometimes clears itself without the need for treatment, but often it requires an anti-fungal treatment in order to clear the infection fully. If you’re pregnant, there is no risk to your baby. More than half of all women get at least one bout of thrush in their lifetime, usually with no specific cause. There are conditions which increase the risk though, such as new medications, the vagina naturally making mucus which gives the bacteria a place to thrive, or if your natural defences are down and your internal balance is shifted. Although you don’t always need a test to diagnose this problem, don’t assume that all vaginal discharge is thrush – there can be many causes for discharge, so you will need to speak to your GP in order to determine if what you have is indeed vaginal thrush.


As previously mentioned, there are several forms of treatment, which work quickly and effectively to treat the infection and stave off the itchy symptoms. But there are also ways you can prevent vagina thrush from developing. These include wearing cotton underwear, as opposed to polyester, so that the skin can breathe and your genital area doesn’t become too moist and hot. You should avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes for the same reason. It may also be helpful to avoid using perfumed products in the vaginal area, such as soaps and shower gels which may cause further irritation. There are some ‘natural’ remedies which offer little scientific proof of effectiveness, but that some women find to be soothing and helpful with regards to symptoms. These include inserting live yogurt into the vagina, adding a little vinegar or bicarbonate of soda to your bath to alter the acidity of the vagina, or using a tampon which has been impregnated with tea tree oil. Thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease, and male partners don’t need to be treated unless they have symptoms on the tip of their penis – these include redness or itching of the penis, or a soreness in the foreskin. However, women can’t catch thrush from men who have no symptoms.

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