Vaginal Thrush



Thrush is inflammation of the vagina caused by a yeast infection. It is not sexually transmitted as the yeasts that cause thrush are very common - they occur in the bowel, on the skin and in the environment.

It mainly causes itching in the genital area but can also cause soreness, redness, swelling and a white, lumpy discharge.

Thrush is really common - 75% of women will have one episode in their lifetime and 45% will have two or more episodes.

The natural hormone oestrogen seems to play an important role in problems from thrush so it is more common at times when oestrogen levels are higher - e.g. during your reproductive years and during pregnancy. It is also more common among people with diabetes, those who have taken a recent course of antibiotics and those who are immuno-suppressed.

No-one knows why some women suffer more with thrush than others.

The aim of treatment is to get rid of the symptoms - not necessarily to get rid of the infection.

To do this you can use anti-fungal creams (usually clotrimazole) in the vagina or anti-fungal tablets (usually fluconazole) - you can get both these medications from the chemist without a prescription.

The important thing is to check that your symptoms really are thrush - these are symptoms of irritation - redness, itchiness, swelling, pain - usually on the skin of the genitals. And if it is thrush then these symptoms should get better with treatment. If they do not then it is worth a visit to your GP or sexual health clinic to make sure that the problem that you are treating really is thrush.

Many thanks



Thanks for this. I HATE thrush. I do treat it with creams/tablets when it flares up (2-3 times a year plus I always get it if I have to take antibiotics) but I have always wondered if there was anything in the idea that avoiding certain foods can help prevent thrush? I started paying attention to this over the last year and it does seem that if I have mild symptoms of thrush and then drink alcohol / eat sugary stuff then the next day it is very much worse. So the next time I avoided alcohol and sugar when I got the mild symptoms and it just stayed a mild bout of thrush. I don’t know - am I just imagining this?


Hi Katrina

Many thanks for raising this issue - it prompted me to have a look at the guidance again.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) gives quite a lot of advice on prevention and self management of thrush - although none if relates to avoiding alcohol or sugar - but then this would not be the first time that we have uncovered things that are not in the medical literature.

NICE says:

Avoid washing with perfumed soaps or anything else that could irritate the skin - maybe try washing with aqueous cream or plain water instead. Don’t wash more than once a day as it dries out the area.
Wash underwear in non-biological soaps and avoid fabric conditioners - again this is about avoiding irritants.
Avoid washing inside the vagina and definitely avoid vaginal douching
Avoid tight fitting or non-absorbant clothing

Interesting they say think about using probiotics either taken by mouth or in the vagina. The guidance says that there is no evidence of harm from this and some small evidence of benefit.

I would be really interested to know whether others have any experience on this.

Many thanks



Hello All

I just had a question as a direct message and the poster said I could share it here.

The question was - can you use Canesten cream when you are bleeding, and the answer is - yes its fine - it won’t do any harm at all. I think if the bleeding was very heavy then it might was the cream away and reduce its effectiveness in that way, but it certainly shouldn’t do any harm.

Many thanks