Thrush is a vaginal yeast infection which affects around 75% of women at some point during their lives. It is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This is a naturally occurring fungus which is usually found in the moist parts of the body such as the vagina. The body is usually able to keep the growth of yeast under control, but in thrush, the yeast takes over, resulting in an infection.
What are the symptoms of thrush?
If you have thrush, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- A thick, white, cheese-like vaginal discharge.
- Burning or itching around the vagina.
- Redness, soreness and swelling of the vulva (the female external genitalia).
- Burning sensation when urinating.
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse.
What causes thrush and how to prevent it?
There are a number of factors which may make a woman more susceptible to developing thrush:
- Taking antibiotics: The growth of yeast in the vagina is kept under control by certain ‘friendly’ bacteria. Antibiotics kill these bacteria, allowing the yeast to take over. If you do have to take an antibiotic make sure you take a good probiotic after taking it Bio Kult Boosted will help fight off fungal infection https://www.fivestarpharmacy.ie/product/bio-kult-boosted/
- Changes in female sex hormone levels (due to pregnancy, taking the contraceptive pill, or before periods): this can alter the pH balance in the vagina making it more alkaline. Yeast thrives in an alkaline environment.
- Stress: Women who are under stress from a poor diet, an illness or lack of sleep are more susceptible. Natural sleep remedies like Bach’s Rescue Remedy https://www.fivestarpharmacy.ie/product/bach-rescue-remedy-drops/ can help you de-stress and get a good night’s sleep.
- A weak immune system: If your immune system has been weakened you may be more susceptible to vaginal yeast infections. Boost your immune system with a product from the Revive range https://www.fivestarpharmacy.ie/product/revive-active/
How is thrush treated?
If properly treated, the majority of vaginal yeast infections are gone within two weeks. Sometimes it only takes a few days. If left untreated however, these infections can persist for years.
Treatment is usually with antifungal medication. Like Canestan Combi https://www.fivestarpharmacy.ie/product/canestan-thrush-combi/.
This is a combination of a cream administered directly to the outside of the vagina, to relieve the itching and soreness, and a pessary (tablet inserted into the vagina) which will treat the internal infection. This is available without a prescription.
The following measures may also help:
- Avoid tights or tight-fitting clothing such as Lycra leggings, if possible.
- If you are sexually active, your doctor may recommend simultaneous treatment of your sexual partner(s) if they have symptoms, to prevent re-infection.
Practical tips for preventing recurrence of thrush?
There are a number of things that you can do to help prevent vaginal yeast infections:
- Keep the external genital area clean and dry. After washing, pat the area dry. If you have been swimming, change quickly into your dry clothes. Try not to spend prolonged periods of time in a wet bathing suit.
- Wear loose cotton underwear. If possible, do not wear underwear (pants) in bed in order to give your genital area a breather. Avoid wearing tights if you are prone to recurrent infections.
- Avoid irritating soaps, bubble baths and shower gels.
- Change tampons and sanitary towels frequently.
- Wipe front to back after urinating. This prevents yeast that may be in your anus from getting into your vagina.