Candida albicans

Vaginal thrush is a condition caused by a yeast infection in the vagina and surrounding area. It usually is Candida albicans, also known as candida or vulvovaginal candidiasis. Candida, as we learnt in our previous article: How to Beat Candida with these 10 Everyday Foods - is harmless and lives on our skin, in the mouth, gut and vagina and only causes trouble when irritated (by poor diet, antibiotics, chemicals).


Who can get thrush?

Against a common belief, both women and men are prone to getting thrush at some point in their lives, but it’s fair to say women are more frequently diagnosed. Both genders in their 30s and 40s are most likely to be affected.


Some women are more predisposed to getting thrush than others yet it’s not clear why. Certain studies suggest that diabetes and particular medical conditions can link two together.

Other possible triggers include:

  • Wearing tight clothing preventing natural ventilation
  • taking antibiotics for longer period of time (1 in 3 women get thrush as a result)
  • using perfumed vaginal washes and bath products
  • going through chemotherapy
  • pregnancy
  • badly treated diabetes
  • weak immune system

Good news for many women out there will be confirmation that there is little evidence that using sanitary towels or tampons is a risk factor for developing thrush.

Despite not being classified as Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) or sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), thrush can still be passed on to a partner during vaginal, oral or anal sex, during foreplay or when sharing sex toys.


Symptoms of thrush

Some women, as they have discovered, don’t have any thrush symptoms whatsoever, while suffering the infection. Often only a cervical smear test reveals the illness by a sheer chance. Other women know right away something is out of order by noticing changes in their vaginal area.

So what are the most common symptoms of thrush we should be looking for?

  • Vulvar itching, irritation and soreness
  • Tenderness and redness of vagina and vulva
  • Vaginal discharge (like cottage cheese), which can thick or thin, but at the same time is completely odorless
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Ache when passing urine
Men, who suspect thrush, need to look for the following signs:
  • Discomfort, itching or burning at the tip of the penis or under a foreskin
  • Redness and red spots around the penis area and the foreskin
  • A thick or thin discharge, similar to cottage cheese, under the foreskin
  • Pain when passing urine

Skin around genitals can be irritated and red, swollen or cracked. There are reports of sores on the skin, although these more often indicate presence of genital herpes.

It is advised to consult your General Practitioner if you suspect having a thrush, as they can identify it on the spot and prescribe the best thrush treatment method.