How to Treat Thrush
12th March 2019
Thrush is a common infection that affects both men and women, however it’s more commonly thought of as a female health problem as it’s more prevalent in women. The reason for this is because the infection is caused by an overgrowth of a yeast called candida, that live on our bodies and, for the most part, cause us no problems.
The thrush infection occurs when this yeast starts to multiply at a rapid rate, to the point where our bodies immune systems aren’t able to control it, and the overgrowth shows itself through thrush symptoms. The reason that women experience thrush more often than men is the yeast requires a warm, moist environment to grow. This means that the vagina is the optimum breeding ground, closely followed by the mouth, throat and the head of the penis.
Why do I need to treat thrush?
Thrush is not a dangerous infection and does not cause sufferers any serious harm. Likewise, if left without treatment, thrush does not put you at risk of contracting or developing any further health problems. However, it’s strongly advised to treat thrush simply and effectively because the infection can be uncomfortable and distract from daily life.
Better described as uncomfortable rather than painful, thrush produces symptoms such as intense itching and soreness around the vagina and vulva. It can also produce a thick, white vaginal discharge, and can cause a slight pain when going for a wee or when having sex.
It’s especially important to treat thrush if you are pregnant, have diabetes or have a weakened immune system. However, treatment can slightly differ in these circumstances so it’s important to check with a doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure.
How do I treat thrush?
Treatment for thrush is quick, simple and you have a variety of options. The first option is to take oral tablets, which is favoured for being practical and working into your normal daily routine, but (like any oral tablets) it can have side effects such as stomach upset. Another option is to use a pessary tablet, which is inserted into the vagina and targets the infection at the source. These are highly effective as they are a more localised method, but a lot of women find it a hassle to use them.
You can also use multiple different vaginal creams to help to clear the infection; one type contains the same active ingredients as the tablets and pessaries and it works to get the candida yeast under control; the other type contains corticosteroids which is used to reduce inflammation and calm the itching and soreness.
Once you’ve cleared the infection using medication, you may find that you are more susceptible to developing it again. This is particularly true of those with diabetes, as people with the condition have urine that contains more glucose, which feeds the candida yeast as it passes through. It also applies to those who have a weakened immune system, because this means they are less able to keep the candida in control.
In order to keep thrush at bay, there are a number of things that you can do. Because the Candida yeast loves a warm, moist environment, it helps to keep things breezy with loose-fitting clothes made of light fabrics (such as cotton), and it’s a good idea to avoid tight, synthetic materials. Try to use water and mild soap to wash around your vagina rather than anything very perfumed, and opt to have showers instead of baths so that the vagina is exposed to the chemicals for a shorter amount of time.
Although thrush can affect both men and women, it is not a sexually transmitted infection because the yeast are not acquired from one person to another; they already exist within all of us. Sex can trigger thrush (especially in women) and having sex while being infected with it can, in turn, trigger the infection in men. However, it’s not necessary to treat your partner for thrush while treating yourself, unless of course, they are also showing symptoms.