Listen up, girls! Here’s everything you need to know about thrush…
What Is Thrush?
Thrush is a common yeast infection. The yeast is called Candida and when it overgrows, it causes thrush. Although it’s not harmful, it can become very uncomfortable.
If you’ve ever had thrush, you’ll know how itchy and unbearable it can be. You may be lucky and have only mild symptoms you barely even notice. Or you may be experiencing more severe symptoms that make you feel uncomfortable and utterly miserable.
What Are The Symptoms?
Think you might have thrush? Here are the symptoms to look out for:
- White vaginal discharge. This often looks like cottage cheese but does not usually smell. If you notice any foul-smelling discharge, make an appointment with your doctor.
- Itchiness and irritation of your vagina. This can be anything from a mild discomfort to and intense itch that drives you crazy.
- Soreness and stinging when you pee or have sex.
- Slight swelling of the labia (the lips of your vagina).
What Causes Thrush?
Thrush is not an STI (sexually transmitted infection) but having sex can sometimes trigger thrush. Yeast likes warm, moist places to grow, which is why vaginal thrush is so common. Triggers of thrush can be:
- Tight clothing and nylon underwear or thick tights.
- Hormonal changes caused by periods or pregnancy.
- Antibiotics – these can sometimes kill the ‘good’ bacteria that usually fight ‘bad’ bacteria.
- Damage to the vagina – for example, friction caused by sex.
- Heavily-perfumed soaps and body washes. These can affect the natural pH balance of your vagina.
- Being run-down, tired or ill.
- Not changing pads and tampons often enough.
The good news is, it’s really simple to treat thrush. You can make an appointment with your doctor or go to a sexual health clinic for advice. You will be asked about your symptoms to make sure it’s definitely thrush. If they’re not completely sure, they may want to look at the affected area and take a swab to determine the cause of the problem. This can feel awkward but try not to be embarrassed. Remember, thrush is extremely common and your doctor is there to help.
You can also talk to the pharmacist at your local chemist and buy over-the-counter treatments. The pharmacist will be able to recommend which kind of thrush treatment will be best for you.
Thrush treatment can be in the form of a pessary (a tablet to be inserted inside the vagina), a cream, a tablet you swallow – or a combination of all three. Usually, thrush will start to clear up after 7-14 days of starting the treatment and you’ll begin to feel relief from the intense itching.
If you find yourself getting thrush regularly, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Recurring thrush is when you have it more than four times in a year. You might need to have more treatment for longer, or your doctor may be able to help you identify what is causing the thrush to reoccur.
To try to prevent thrush, you can:
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing to avoid getting moisture trapped.
- Avoid using deodorants and perfumed products in and around your vaginal area.
- Regularly change sanitary products.
- Wipe from front to back.
- Dry yourself properly with a clean, soft towel after washing.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid high-sugar foods and drinks.
- Give long hot baths a swerve and jump in the shower instead.
If you think you might have thrush, please don’t suffer in silence. It can feel embarrassing to talk about it, but it’s much worse to put up with the discomfort and pain. It’s very easy to treat so speak to your doctor, sexual health clinic or pharmacist today to get the help you need.