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What is Thrush and how do we treat it?

Colin Dang

Thrush

Thrush is a common yeast infection that can affect both men and woman and mostly happens during the summer when the weather is warmer.  It’s usually harmless but can sometimes be uncomfortable and keep coming back, so look out for the symptmoms we outline in this blog and take on board these health tips and actions to deal with any infection and make your sumer thrush free!

 

Causes of thrush

 Thrush is caused by a fungus called candida Albicans, many people have this fungus but it’s normally kept under control therefore does not cause any problems. However, from time to time this is not controlled and so the balance of bacteria changes, leading to thrush.

Thrush tends to grow in warm, moist conditions, but in most people thrush develops without any specific trigger but may be more likely to develop if you have:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Taking antibiotics (which weakens the good bacteria that normally fight fungus)
  • You’ve been through the menopause (you can see more about the menopause in our upcoming video)
  • You’re pregnant
  • You have a weakened immune system due to HIV or other conditions.
  • You use perfumed soaps and shower gels

It’s estimated that 75 per cent of all women will experience a thrush infection at least once in their lives and over 6% of women suffer from recurrent episodes.

The incidence of recurrent thrush, warns lead researcher Dr Riina Rautemaa-Richardson, is set to rise to an estimated 158 million people by 2030.

Chinese, Indian and American women are the world’s most numerous sufferers of thrush at 29.1 million and 23.6 million and 9 million respectively, they find.

And a significant 1.2 million women in the UK suffer from the condition.

Thrush is less common in girls before puberty and post menopausal women. It is common in women of reproductive age group between 20–40 years and therefore reproductive hormones, particularly oestrogen, is thought to enhance the proliferation and attachment of Candida to the vaginal inner lining. 

Most cases occur in women aged 25 to 34, but a growing female population using hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) - to alleviate menopause symptoms and improve sexual experience - is thought to be behind the rise in the numbers affected.

Symptoms of thrush

As mentioned before thrush can occur in both men and women, below are the symptoms in women:

  • White discharge (like cottage cheese) which doesn’t usually smell
  • Itching and irritation around the vagina
  • Soreness and stinging during sex or when peeing

And men:

  • Irritation, burning and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin
  • A white discharge (like cottage cheese)
  • An unpleasant smell
  • Difficulty pulling back the foreskin

Now, we like to help our customers to self-prevent where able, so below we have some tips about what you can do yourself to ease discomfort and prevent thrush returning once treated.

Do

  • Use water and emollients (instead of soap), like E45 cream to wash your penis and vagina.
  • Dry the affected area properly after washing
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid sex until thrush has cleared up
  • Use a condom to help stop it spreading
  • Take showers instead of baths. 

Don’t

  • Use soap or shower gels
  • Use douches or deodorants on your vagina or penis
  • Wear tight underwear or tights

 

And now here are some myth busting thrush facts for you!

  • Does thrush affect fertility? - No it does not affect men or women
  • Can my diet affect thrush? No there is no relationship between thrush and diet
  • Sex causes thrush - sex does not cause thrush, yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted disease
  • Can my partner catch it during sex? It is very unlikely to be passed on to your partner during sex even if unprotected, as most people carry it on their skin or in their bowel
  • It is contagious - no, they are triggered by imbalance of natural bacteria and cannot be caught, so cannot be acquired by casual contact and items like towels, toilet seats
  • Vaginal bleeding is a common symptom of yeast infections - the only likely bleeding issue will be a person with irritation scratching so much to cause the skin bleed
  • Using a condom would reduce thrush - as it is not sexually transmitted this is not the case

 

When you should see your GP about thrush

  • You have symptoms of thrush for the first time as mentioned previously in this blog
  • You’re under 16 or over 60
  • Your thrush keeps coming back (more than twice in 6 months)
  • Treatment hasn’t worked
  • You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have thrush and a weakened immune system - for example, because of diabetes, HIV or chemotherapy

 

Treatment

 Most cases of thrush can be treated with a tablet taken orally or inserted into your vagina. An antifungal cream can also be used to relieve irritation and you don’t need to treat partners unless they have symptoms.

 Thrush is a treatable infection, however, it can be both worrying if you have it for the first time and it certainly makes you feel uncomfortable, so if you recognise any of the symptoms above, take action so you can enjoy the summer!

 If you found this blog useful, please share it by clicking the social media icons below and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about thrush.

 The Coda Team

 

 

 

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