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Vaginal thrush

Thrush - doctors appoint

What is vaginal thrush?
Thrush is a fungal infection caused by yeast.  The yeast is called candida albicans and this is found naturally in the gut and in the vagina.  Sometimes the conditions of the vagina change allowing the candida albicans to multiply.  This may result in the vulva and vagina becoming sore, itchy and swollen and you may notice a thick, whitish discharge – these are classic symptoms of thrush.

How is it caused?
It is not known exactly how changes in the vagina trigger thrush, but it may be due to a hormone (chemical) imbalance.  In most cases, the cause of the hormonal changes is unknown, however your chances of developing thrush are increased if:-
• You are pregnant
• You wear tight clothes
• You are taking antibiotics
• You are having chemotherpay
• You have uncontrolled diabetes
• You use perfumed vaginal deodrant or bubble bath
• You have sex with someone who has thrush
• You have a poor diet
• You are just about to start or finish your periods

What are the symptoms?
The symptoms vary between women and may be different but can include the following:-
• Itching and soreness around the labia and entrance to the vagina
• Swelling of the vulva
• Thick whitish discharge which may look like cottage cheese usually no smell although some women have complained of a strong smell of yeast
• Burning sensation on passing urine
• Pain or burning during intercourse
• Discomfort whilst sitting or walking

Symptoms for men are:-
• Inflammation of the penis
• Head of the penis  becomes itchy, red and sore – sometimes small red spots will appear
• Discomfort on passing urine
• Pain when pulling back the foreskin
• Foreskin may  swell and crack
• Yoghurt-like, yeast smelling discharge under the foreskin

How does thrush develop during sex?
Thrush can occasionally be passed on after vaginal, anal or oral sex, by fingers during foreplay or by sharing sex toys. This may be due to the yeast being transferred from one sexual partner to another, or the act of intercourse irritating the vaginal area or genital area.

How can I help to keep thrush at bay?
Sex
– although thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease partners can pass it back and forth during sex.  Always make sure the vagina is well lubricated before having intercourse. Get yourself checked out by a doctor if you develop thrush for the first time after sex with a new partner.
Menstrual cycle – Change tampons or pads regularly if you are having a period and avoid scented sanitary wear.
Lifestyle – avoid stress and too much junk food. Take a probiotic to help boost the good bacteria in your gut and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Clothing – avoid tight restrictive or synthetic clothing like tights, leggings, lycra shorts or tight jeans – stick to loosely fitted clothes and cotton underwear.
Toilet habits – always wash and wipe from front to back to avoid encouraging the yeast into the vagina.
Antibiotics – antibiotics are designed to kill off bacteria that cause infection but they will also kill off the good bugs that keep your vagina healthy, making you prone to thrush.  If you need antibiotics and are likely to get thrush as a result, tell your doctor who will be able prescribe a thrush treatment at the same time.
Perfumed products – avoid perfumed soaps, bubble baths, genital sprays and vaginal deodorants as these may contain chemicals that alter the natural acidity of the vagina potentially allowing the candida to multiply.  If you suffer recurrent bouts of thrush it’s worth cutting them out all together.
Trauma – vigorous sexual activity, using sex toys or even rubbing too hard with a bath towel can irritate the vaginal tissues and increase the chance of developing thrush.

What are the treatments?
Many over the counter treatments are available – antifungal treatments for thrush can be taken by mouth (orally) or by inserting them into the vagina (intravaginal pessaries).  Both are equally effective in treating thrush. Topical creams can also be purchased to help treat sore parts of the vulva.

When should I see a doctor?
Many cases of thrush are easily managed with over the counter products from your pharmacist who has all the experience to help you, but you must see a doctor if
• You are pregnant or breastfeeding
• This is a first attack
• Symptoms haven’t improved after 7 to 14 days of treatment
• You have recurrent attacks
• You have abnormal bleeding or a blood stained discharge
• The discharge is offensive smelling
• You have sores or blisters on your vulva or vagina
• You have symptoms following intercourse with a new partner and could have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection.

All content within Real Women Today Health is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Real Women Today is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of the Real Women Today website. Always consult your own GP if you’re in any way concerned about your health.

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2 Comments »

  1. Bustyblonde76 says:

    Thanks for this post.
    Wouldn’t have searched for it, but glad I came across it. Some points on there I didn’t know about and I occassionally suffer from thrush.

  2. [...] is one of the symptoms, which means that it can become tighter and more painful.  Remember, the vagina is like a muscle: use it or lose it.  Dryness can also be a problem, though there are water-based [...]

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