Thrush is a very common infection that's most often caused by an overgrowth of a yeast called Candida. It is also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis.
This yeast lives naturally in the bowel and in small numbers in the vagina. It is mostly harmless, but symptoms can develop if yeast numbers increase.
Symptoms can include vaginal itching or burning, a white discharge and stinging or buring while urinating.
70-75% of women will experience at least one episode of thrush in their lifetime. 40-50% of women will experience a recurrence, and 5-8% of adult women have recurrent thrush defined as four or more episodes per year (Sobel JD, Lancet, 2007).
You may experience some but not all of the following symptoms:
- Itching and burning around the entrance of the vagina (vulva)
- Redness of the vulva area and there may even be a swelling of the vaginal lips (labia)
- A heavier than usual discharge that can be thick and cottage cheese like in appearance
If this is the first time you have had thrush, it is recommended that you consult your doctor.
If you have experienced thrush in the past, you can visit your local pharmacy where the pharmacist will be able to recommend an appropriate treatment.
Talk to your doctor if you don't feel better after 4 days of beginning treatment or if your thrush infection returns.
If you have experienced 3 or more thrush infections in the past 6 months, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor.
It is recommended that you refrain from sex if you have thrush. If you have any questions or concerns, you and your partner should talk to your doctor.
Yes. Thrush is caused by a change in the pH balance of your vagina. These are some of the factors which can bring about this change:
- Antibiotics can destroy the friendly bacteria that keeps vaginal yeast under control
- Hormone changes brought on by pregnancy, the pill, or a period
- Poor diet, lack of sleep, or stress
- A weak immune system brought on by illness
- Over-use of chemical deodorants, perfumed bodywash or sprays near the vagina
- Tight or synthetic clothing creating a warm, moist environment
Yes, as antibiotics suppress the normal vaginal flora that controls the growth of yeast, allowing the yeast to take over.
Yes, the changes in hormones during pregnancy can make some women more susceptible to thrush.
If you get thrush during pregnancy you should speak to your doctor before starting treatment as not all thrush treatments are suitable for use when pregnant or breastfeeding.