Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
What is it?
Thrush is a very common condition caused by yeast which lives harmlessly in the female vagina. Occasionally the yeast overgrows, and can cause signs and symptoms.
How do I catch it?
Though thrush can be passed on during sex, it is not a sexually transmitted infection as such, and it can affect people even when they do not have sex.
Thrush is more common during pregnancy and in people with diabetes, or HIV. It can also develop when taking certain antibiotics, or chemotherapy treatments that affect the immune system. Wearing tight clothing can also enable thrush to develop.
Thrush can be made worse by products that may cause irritation of the vagina, such as vaginal deodorant or bubble bath.
Women might notice:
- itching, soreness and redness around the vulva, vagina and anus
- vaginal discharge may become very thick, like cottage cheese
- urinating and having sex can be painful
Men might notice:
- irritation, burning or itching under the foreskin or around the tip of the penis
- redness of the genital skin or a spotty rash on the head of the penis
- a discharge under the foreskin, or swelling
Thrush is often diagnosed by how it looks, but it can also be tested for by taking swabs from the affected area.
Thrush can clear on its own, especially in people who don’t have any symptoms.
You can buy anti-fungal cream and pessaries (specially shaped pills which are inserted into the vagina) from a pharmacist, who will advise you on how to use these treatments. However, if the symptoms do not resolve with these simple measures, you should see your GP or come to a sexual health clinic for a check up.