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Thrush

Thrush: Free advice – ask me today!

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By Dr Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH | GMC no. 3657058

I am a GP and a sexual health and hormone specialist. I can give advice on any medical matter, and I offer safe access to medical advice, prescription medication, blood tests and x-rays, and specialist referrals to your local private hospital as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is thrush?

Thrush is usually caused by a yeast fungus, known as candida albicans. This yeast usually lives harmlessly on the skin and in the mouth, gut and vagina but changes in conditions and environment can cause symptoms to develop.

What causes vaginal thrush to develop?
The vagina is not a sterile area and it is normal to have bacteria in the vagina. The bacteria that is usually present in large numbers is lacto bacilli and there are often small numbers of other bacteria and fungi including thrush and gardnerella ( which causes bacterial vaginosis) living harmlessly alongside the lacto bacilli in the vagina. Lacto bacilli keep the vagina acidic and therefore this doesn’t allow the other ‘bugs’ to take over. However if the vaginal environment becomes less acidic these other bugs can increase in number sometimes causing symptoms. Blood is alkaline and semen is alkaline so these can contribute to changing the vaginal environment and women sometimes notice thrush symptoms are more common around their period time or after sex.

As well as these changes, thrush symptoms are more likely to develop if you:

  • Have taken antibiotics
  • Are having chemotherapy
  • Are pregnant
  • Have uncontrolled diabetes, HIV or any illness that effects the immune system
  • Wear tight clothing /underwear made of nylon type fibres causing a hot moist environment and poor ventilation
  • Use highly perfumed products to wash the vaginal area
  • Douche- rinsing inside the vagina, often using the head of the shower- this washes away the good bacteria allowing the other bacteria to cause symptoms
What are the symptoms of thrush?
Women

  • Most common symptom is itching and soreness inside the vagina and on the vulva ( the lips around the vagina) or around the anus
  • A thick, lumpy white vaginal discharge- often described as the appearance of cottage cheese

Men

  • Irritation, burning or itching under the foreskin or tip of penis
  • Redness or red patches under the foreskin or on tip of penis, sometimes a white discharge under the foreskin
How is thrush diagnosed?

In general you don’t always need a test  to confirm thrush as it is usually treated on the signs and symptoms
However if the symptoms are not getting better or are reoccurring then it would be wise to do a test- this is to ensure a correct diagnosis and is a swab- this is available online
It is important to note that as previously explained thrush can live in harmless quantities in the vagina and can be found incidentally on swabs whilst testing for other STI’s. Thrush does not need to be treated unless there are symptoms present.
It is also important to understand that a vaginal discharge is normal. The vagina is lubricated by mucus producing glands which give a clear white discharge, this can be heavier at certain times in the period cycle. Only ‘ abnormal for you’ discharge should be of concern.

How is thrush treated?

Anti-fungal cream, vaginal pessaries or both. The cream is applied to the genital area as an external topical treatment. The pessaries are inserted into the vagina at night. These treatments can weaken latex condoms and diagphrams
There is also a single dose oral tablet available – Diflucan, this is not suitable if you are pregnant
These treatments can be bought from a chemist or online

How can I prevent getting it again?
  • Avoid wearing tight restrictive synthetic clothing around the genital area, such as nylon underwear and lycra shorts
  • Avoid perfumed shower and bath products, just wash the genitals with water and don’t use genital sprays/deodorisers etc
  • Don’t rinse inside the vagina
  • Avoid long term use of tampons and avoid perfumed sanitary pads
  • There are gut friendly drinks (probiotics) which some women find helpful at preventing further episodes of thrush and although some evidence suggests it may help this is not necessarily clinically proven.
  • If you have 4 or more episodes of thrush in a year this may indicate other health issues and you should see a doctor

Safe, real prescriptions for Thrush.

Whether you know which HRT suits you best or whether you need advice on what you should take,

ask me here about safe prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy.

What about oral thrush?

This is most commonly seen in babies and is treated with anti-fungal mouth drops

It is not commonly seen in otherwise healthy adults and may be a warning sign of some other underlying medical problem so you may need to see a health professional or dentist.

 

Contact me now for advice, prescriptions, blood tests and referrals.

Please note that this service does not aim to replace advice given to you by your own doctor, it is meant to supplement your health knowledge and awareness.

It is never to be used in the case of a medical emergency.

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