Thrush (candida)

Thrush (or candida) is an infection of the vagina that makes your genitals very itchy and sore. It is very common and most women have it at least once in their lives. It is not a sign of bad hygiene.


What are the signs of thrush?

Symptoms can include:

  • an itchy and sore vulva
  • a thick, white discharge that can look a bit like cottage cheese
  • a dry and sore vagina during sex
  • a burning feeling when you pass urine.

Symptoms can get worse just before your period. Tight clothing can also make symptoms worse as they trap moisture, creating the perfect environment for the infection.

What causes thrush?

Your vagina naturally has a certain amount of yeast. Thrush is caused by the growth of too much yeast.

You are more likely to get thrush if you have recently taken antibiotics, you have diabetes or your immune system is weakened (for example, because you have HIV).

How is thrush diagnosed?

Your doctor will take a sample from your vagina using a cotton swab and send this away to be tested in a laboratory.

How is thrush treated?

The most common treatment is to put anti-thrush cream or a tablet in your vagina. You can purchase these from the chemist without a prescription from your doctor.

You should see your doctor before taking this medication if you’re not sure what is causing the irritation. You should also see your doctor if the itchiness and pain doesn’t go away or comes back again after treatment. Although thrush is common, it is not the only thing that can cause itchiness or pain, and accidentally using anti-thrush medication when you have another condition can sometimes make that condition worse.

What if I keep getting thrush?

If you have thrush four times in one year, you may have chronic thrush. This is not as common as regular thrush and requires a different treatment. Your doctor will usually recommend taking an anti-thrush tablet for up to six months. They may also recommend that you change your diet and avoid stress and the contraceptive pill if they think these may be affecting your thrush.

Can I have sex if I have thrush?

Thrush is not sexually transmitted, so you do not need to avoid sex,  though sex may be uncomfortable while you are infected.

There is no need to routinely screen or treat sexual partners.


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The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.

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