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Around 75% of women suffer from a thrush infection at some point in life

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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What causes thrush?

Thrush (also called a yeast infection) can cause a nasty itch and vaginal discharge. It is caused by the sudden growth of yeast in the body. It's natural to find yeast in moist parts of the body (like the vagina or mouth), but when the yeast grows too rapidly it can cause thrush.

What are the symptoms?

  • A thick, cheesy, white vaginal discharge (liquid).
  • Burning or itching sensations or redness and soreness around the vagina.
  • A burning feeling when peeing.
  • Pain or discomfort during sex.
  • Swelling of the vulva (the lips of a woman's genital area).

Why do I get thrush?

There are some things that make an attack of thrush more likely:

  • Taking antibiotics can kill the friendly bacteria, which normally prevent too much yeast growing in the vagina. If you're on a course of antibiotics, you are more at risk of getting thrush.
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy or when taking some types of contraceptive pills can encourage attacks of thrush.
  • Stress or general ill health such as anaemia or tiredness can leave you more at risk of suffering from thrush.

How do I get treated for thrush?

  • Eliminate/reduce sugar, bread and yeast products (such as alcohol and fermented products) from your diet. Yeast thrives on these!
  • Build up the immune system by following a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Only take antibiotics prescribed for you by your doctor. If multiple courses are prescribed, ask your doctor if they are really necessary.
  • Lactobacteria supplements such as acidophilus (available in most pharmacies and health food shops) encourage the growth of friendly bacteria. Taking them during and after a course of antibiotics is one of the best ways of preventing thrush.
  • Probiotic yoghurts also contain good bacteria and are readily available in most supermarkets.
  • If symptoms persist, make sure to see a doctor for a full check-up.
  • If you follow proper treatment, thrush will probably be gone within two weeks. If you don't get treatment, the problem can continue for years.
  • If you have a partner, they should be treated for thrush at the same time. 
  • Try washing in warm, salty water to soothe the area and avoid using soaps, shower gels or bubble baths around the vaginal area.
  • Avoid tights and tight fitting clothes while you are being treated for thrush.
  • Keep the vaginal area clean and dry. Make sure it's completely dry after washing and never hang around in wet or damp clothes like bikinis or swimsuits. 
  • Change tampons and sanitary pads regularly. Don't use perfumed sanitary pads.
  • Avoid bad hygiene habits when going to the toilet. Always wipe from front to back to stop yeast in the anus (bum) getting into your vagina.
  • If you suffer from diabetes, the higher sugar content of your blood can encourage the growth of yeast. Talk to your doctor about keeping your blood sugar levels as well controlled as possible.
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Published January 3rd, 2013
Last updated June 26th, 2017
Tags health women's health
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