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Thrush

What is it?

Thrush is a very common, harmless yeast infection that can affect many women and some men. This yeast lives in all of our bodies but is usually kept in check by naturally occurring bacteria. It is not a sexually transmitted infection.

How is it passed on?

Thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection.

Possible causes are:

  • Taking antibiotics
  • Having sex with someone who has thrush
  • A reaction to some perfumed soaps, vaginal cleansing products
  • Synthetic or tight underwear

What are the symptoms?

Women might notice:

  • Itching, soreness and redness around the vulva, vagina and anus
  • Vaginal discharge may become thick, like cottage cheese
  • Passing urine 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 tip of the penis
  • Discharge under the foreskin, or swelling

How do you test for it?

Thrush is usually diagnosed by examination only. Sometimes a sample may be taken to look at under the microscope.

What is the treatment?

The following may help to treat thrush and improve symptoms:

  • An anti-fungal cream or vaginal pessaries (e.g. Clotrimazole) or anti-fungal tablets taken by mouth (Fluconazole). These are available from the pharmacy without a prescription.
  • Avoid using perfumed soaps and toiletries in the genital area
  • Avoid synthetic or tight underwear. Use cotton underwear instead
  • For some women, using sanitary pads instead of tampons during menstruation (periods)
  • If your symptoms continue after following this advice visit your GP

Find out how to avoid STIs.