Thrush is caused by the overgrowth of yeast-like fungi called Candida. Candida inhabits the vagina, mouth and digestive tract in small numbers and is normally harmless. When the balance of naturally occurring organisms in the vagina is disrupted an overgrowth of Candida can occur. Thrush can develop as a result of the use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives or steroids. It is also more prevalent in those with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, a weakened immune system, a history of allergies or who are pregnant. Thrush does not appear to be sexually transmitted but is associated with some sexual practices (women receiving oral sex)).
Women who suspect they may have a vaginal infection should visit their doctor Treatment for thrush involves the use of anti-fungal creams, vaginal pessaries and/or oral medication. Many of these treatments are now available over the counter (no prescription required). Women who choose to self-treat with over the counter thrush preparations should see their doctor if symptoms persist or recur as they may have a different condition or a resistant strain of thrush. Recurrent thrush infections (those that have been confirmed by a doctor) may require a longer course of treatment before they go away.
There are a number of practices that are said to reduce a woman’s chances of getting thrush. While in some cases there is limited scientific evidence about their effectiveness, many women believe they are helpful. Practices include:
Avoid wearing tight fitting clothing like jeans and pantyhose, underwear made from synthetic fibers and panty liners (as these creates a moist, warm environment which may encourage the growth of Candida)
- Avoid douching and taking baths with bubble-bath, soap, bath salts (can upset the natural balance in the vagina)
- Change underwear daily and wash underwear in hot water (to destroy fungi)
- Maintain a strong immune system by eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, not smoking and managing stress levels
- If prescribed antibiotics for a health complaint, ask the doctor about also taking anti-fungal preparations in combination as a preventative measure
- Consuming yoghurt or other products (eg., capsules) containing the ‘good’ bacteria, lactobacilli. Since you said the symptoms usually happen after sexual intercourse you may like to consider (if you are using condoms) that you may be sensitive to latex. There are alternatives.- just speak to your pharmacist
- Women’s Health Educator
Health Information Line, Women’s Health Queensland Wide
Women living in Queensland can also call our Health Information Line - a free information and referral service for Queensland women - on 3839 9988 or 1800 017 676 (toll free outside Brisbane).
Please note that all health information provided by Women’s Health Queensland Wide is subject to this disclaimer
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