Vaginal Thrush/ Yeast Infection

Vaginal Thrush/ Yeast Infection

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably had thrush in the past or you are currently experiencing it. You may be wondering ‘what exactly is thrush?’ In short, thrush is a yeast fungal infection (called candida albicans) affecting the genitals and skin [1]. Thrush is common in both men and women but far more common in women (3/4 of women will experience vaginal thrush in their lives). It’s even more common for women in their 20s and 30s. If you seem to be experiencing thrush repeatedly, you’re not alone - 1/20 women have recurrent thrush infections [2]. However, thrush is easily treated and will clear up within a week or two. 

What causes vaginal thrush?

Thrush is actually an overgrowth of a normal type of yeast that grows harmlessly in the body. An overgrowth in yeast can be caused by taking antibiotics, pregnancy, poor management of diabetes, a weak immune system or using spermicidal products. There is also discussion over whether the contraception pill can contribute to an overgrowth of yeast but there isn’t a definite answer yet [2]. The unbalance in yeast can also be triggered by sexual intercourse. Although very uncommon, thrush can be passed onto a partner during sex. 

Symptoms of thrush: 

“What does vaginal thrush look like?” In women, the symptoms of thrush are a white discharge (sometimes described as looking like cottage cheese) that doesn’t have a smell. There will also be itchiness around your vagina and discomfort and pain during sex or urination. For men, you may experience white discharge with an unpleasant smell, irritation, burning and redness on your penis and discomfort pulling back the foreskin. 

If the infection is in the skin, it will cause a painful rash with discharge. However, sometimes thrush infections have no symptoms at all [3]. 


Will thrush go away on its own? 

In some cases, a thrush infection will go away on its own. However, if it’s the first time you’ve had a thrush infection, it’s advised you go to your local healthcare provider for treatment. If you have had thrush before, you can simply go to a pharmacy and get an over-the-counter treatment. 

Which thrush treatment is best? 

An anti-fungal medicine will stop the infection. These usually come in a pessary, tablet or cream. The best treatment depends on you and which is best for your body. Once you’ve started treatment, your infection should clear up in a week or two. If after two weeks your infection is still present, go to your local healthcare provider. 

Are thrush and BV the same? 

Thrush and BV are both vaginal infections. However, thrush is caused by an overgrowth in yeast and BV is caused by an imbalance in your healthy vaginal bacteria. BV causes a discharge like thrush but BV discharge has a strong, unpleasant smell. Furthermore, BV is treated with antibiotics [4]. If you’re unsure which infection you have, go to your local healthcare provider. 

Can thrush cause bleeding? 

Vaginal thrush can cause bleeding. Due to the infection, small cuts, tears or sores have formed in the vagina. If you have recurrent thrush infections, you will be more likely to have bleeding [5]. The bleeding should stop once you’ve completed your treatment. If you are concerned, speak to a medical professional. 


Thrush near period: 

You may have noticed a connection between bouts of thrush and your period. Hormonal changes during your period can disrupt your balance of vaginal yeast and lead to an overgrowth. Lots of women experience thrush during their period. Tampons and pads (especially perfumed pads) can irritate vaginas causing a thrush infection [6]. 






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