What is Vaginal Thrush?
Vaginal Thrush is a common yeast infection that most women would experience at some point in their lives. Also known as Vaginal Yeast Infection or Candidal Vulvovaginitis, it is a condition that can be unpleasant and embarrassing.
What Causes Thrush?
Outbreaks of vaginal thrush infections are attributed to Candidal Albicans. This is a common fungus that can be found in the mouth, digestive tract or vagina while not causing adverse symptoms.
Here are some common triggers that can cause an outbreak of thrush.
Illnesses & Thrush
People who are diabetic and have high sugar levels are more susceptible to outbreaks of vaginal thrush. This causes changes with the body which leads to better conditions for the fungus to overgrow. Diabetics who do has their diabetes well controlled are less likely to experience thrush. (5)
People with poorly functioning immune systems are more likely to develop thrush. It is why women who have HIV/Aids or are undergoing chemotherapy have a higher risk of developing thrush.
Pregnancy & Thrush
Women will experience high levels of estrogen during pregnancy, which can increase the risk of developing thrush. They are more likely to experience recurring outbreaks.
Medicine & Thrush
It is advised that you avoid taking antibiotics for illnesses that don’t require it. Antibiotics can cause an imbalance of bacteria and allow a yeast infection to develop.
How do you know if you have Vaginal Thrush?
It can be difficult to tell if you have vaginal thrush.
Here are some symptoms of vaginal thrush.
Itching and irritation around the vagina
Soreness or a stinging when you urinate or during sex
A white vaginal discharge, which normally would not smell
How to Prevent Vaginal Thrush?
While there is nothing to be ashamed about having thrush, you can do certain things to prevent the likelihood of developing it.
If you have a disease like Diabetes, you should keep your blood sugar levels well balanced and under control.
It is advised to avoid scented feminine products. These products include bubble baths and soaps, and tampons or pad as the chemicals and ingredients used to produce these scents can increase your risk of thrush.
Do not use vaginal douches or other feminine hygiene products of this nature. These products can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina. You can remove certain bacteria that are important to a healthy vagina and can allow yeast infections to develop.
Cleaning the vulva with water and an emollient soap substitute can help reduce the risk of thrush. This should not be done more than once a day.
How to Treat Vaginal Thrush?
An awfully uncomfortable and embarrassing condition, vaginal thrust can be treated with medication that can be purchased over-the-counter without a doctor’s prescription.
However, if your thrush persists, your doctor may prescribe medication.
When treating thrush, there are two factors to consider. There’s treating the thrush internally and the symptoms externally. Here’s how.
Treating Internal Vaginal Thrush
Mild cases of vaginal thrush can normally be treated effectively with a short course of anti-fungal medication. After a week or two, you will find your symptoms will clear up.
However, if you find you suffer from repeat cases of thrush, a longer course of medication would be more appropriate.
There are three main types of anti-fungal medication you can take to treat your vaginal thrush.
Treating Thrush with Pessaries
A pessary is a type of pill that is inserted into the vagina to clear up the infection. Pessaries use an effective anti-fungal ingredient such as Clotrimazole. By delivering it directly to the source of the infection, it will clear the infection quickly and directly.
This is normally done before you go to sleep and a single dose is normally enough to clear up the thrush.
Treating Thrush with Intravaginal Creams
Intravaginal creams are creams that are delivered directly into the vagina with the assistance of an applicator. The applicator allows the cream to directly deliver the intravaginal cream to the source of the thrush and directly combat the infection.
Treating Thrush with Capsules & Tablets
Capsules and tablets are taken orally and contain an anti-fungal ingredient such as Clotrimazole. While more convenient than a pessary or intervaginal cream, these capsules and tablets may have some uncomfortable side effects such as an upset stomach.
Before beginning any course of thrush treatment, as you should with any medication, consult any instructions or information on the packaging before beginning. If you have any doubts whether a treatment is appropriate for you, please speak with a pharmacist or doctor for further guidance.
You should be able to choose any method of treatment you want, provided you are not allergic to the active anti-fungal ingredient. If you are pregnant or are currently breastfeeding, you should not take capsules.
Treating External Vaginal Thrush
While the actual infection is in the vagina, you may experience symptoms concerning the outside of the vagaina which you can treat. The most common symptom would be itchiness and irritation around the vulva labia, which can be treated with an external cream.
Much like an internal thrush treatment, these external creams contain an effective antifungal ingredient such as Clotrimazole.
If Thrush Persists or Returns
If you find your thrush persists or returns after treatment, please see your doctor.
This article has been medically approved by Superintendent Pharmacist Shilpa Shailen Karia, MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2087328