Everything you need to know about the symptoms and treatments of vaginal thrush

Many of us ladies have had to deal with vaginal thrush at some point. In fact, three-quarters of women are thought to be affected by thrush during their lifetime. According to Brook, ‘thrush is a yeast infection caused by fungus that exists naturally in the body. With vaginal thrush, it can develop when conditions in the vagina change – such as when taking antibiotics, when hormone changes occur due to pregnancy, when you have diabetes or if your immune system is weak.’

We understand how uncomfortable thrush can be. By becoming familiar with the symptoms of thrush, you can make sure you get the appropriate treatment as soon as possible, so you can start to feel more comfortable and back to your normal self!

What are the symptoms of vaginal thrush?

  • A change in discharge. Discharge with thrush doesn’t have a strong odour. It can be thick and white (sometimes resembling cottage cheese), or thin and watery.
  • Having an itchy or sore vulva (the external female genitals)
  • Pain during sex
  • Stinging when passing urine

How can vaginal thrush be treated?

If it's the first time you've had symptoms: If it’s the first time you’ve experienced symptoms of vaginal thrush, you’ll need to visit your GP. They’ll want to rule out any other conditions which might be causing your symptoms. They'll look at your medical history and ask you for details about the symptoms you're experiencing.

If it is vaginal thrush, you'll be advised on treatment. There are various treatments for thrush. This includes a tablet (taken orally), or a pessary. A pessary is similar to a large tablet. This is inserted quite far back into the vagina (don't worry, your pessary will come with an applicator and instructions on how to use it). It's good to use the pessary before bedtime. Don't be alarmed if you see chalky discharge in your underwear the next day; this is completely normal and doesn't mean the pessary hasn't worked!

Creams are also available and you can apply this directly to the vulva to soothe any external irritation. After thrush treatment, you should find that your symptoms clear up within a week. If your symptoms haven't gone, please go back to your GP. If they haven't already, they may want to take a swab of your discharge to send off for testing, to confirm exactly what is causing you to feel so uncomfortable.

If you've had vaginal thrush previously: If you’ve previously had thrush, there’s no need to visit your GP. You can simply buy medication over the counter from your pharmacy. Bear in mind though that if you're experiencing repeated episodes of thrush, you'll need to go back to your GP. In some cases, a longer-term treatment regimen is necessary than the over-the-counter tablets and pessaries.

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