Thrush is a common infection that is known for its symptoms of vaginal itchiness and thick cottage cheese like discharge. It can be really uncomfortable while you have it, but easily treated with over the counter medication. It is a very common condition and is nothing to be ashamed about.
- Vulva/vagina itchiness
- Thick cottage cheese like discharge
- Pain or irritation with intercourse
- Pain or irritation with urination and/or with wiping
What causes it?
Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast called Candida and is more likely to occur during pregnancy or if you have just had a round of antibiotics.
Things you can do to avoid thrush include:
If you are experiencing recurrent thrush then some of the following things may be useful
- Wearing no underwear over night to allow your vulva and vagina to "air out"
- Changing out of tight/sweaty gym gear after you have finished your work out
- Avoiding cleaning the vulva/vagina with soaps - warm water is more than enough
- Avoiding using sprays and perfumes to the vulva/vagina
- Try to avoid a diet high in processed sugars
- Wearing breathable (cotton) underwear
- Ensuring you actually have thrush - there are other things that can cause vaginal itchiness, so if your symptoms are not responding to routine treatment ensure you have been tested for other conditions.
Thrush and sex
It is often recommended that you avoid intercourse while you have thrush as it can exacerbate your symptoms and it can also make your risk of having painful sex after your thrush has gone higher. This is because of the changes to the vaginal microbiome and mucosa that makes it more prone to inflammation. Additionally, if you have painful sex while you have thrush, your body/brain may expect sex to be painful in the future too, which may cause an exaggerated muscular and nerve response resulting in sensitivity and pain with intercourse.
If you are experiencing a prolonged period of painful sex after thrush then please speak to a trusted health care professional or book in to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
You can find out more about painful intercourse and pelvic pain here.