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I’ve suffered with thrush for as long as I can remember. Since having the kids its only got worse. I’m now on a maintenance plan through my GP. I manage my diet because I know that, for me, sugar is a massive trigger. I talked to Bupa’s expert, Dr Samantha Wild for some advice. Here’s what she had to say.
What is vaginal thrush?
Vaginal thrush is a yeast infection that can make you feel sore and itchy around your vulva and vagina.
It’s common – about three-quarters of women will have it at some point in their lives. Up to one in 20 women have repeated (recurrent) thrush infections. You can get thrush at any age, but it’s most common in women who are in their 20s and 30s. Men can also get thrush, including on the penis.
What are the most common symptoms of vaginal thrush?
You might not have any symptoms of thrush, and not realise you have it or need treatment. If you do get vaginal thrush symptoms, they may include feeling itchy and sore outside your vagina and a thick, white vaginal discharge. You may also experience soreness and discomfort when you have sex and when you go to the toilet.
What are the causes of vaginal thrush?
Vaginal thrush is caused by a type of yeast. Normally, this lives harmlessly in, or around your vagina, alongside healthy bacteria. But if it grows more than usual, this causes thrush.
There are several things that can cause you to develop thrush, including taking antibiotics, being pregnant, and having a weakened immune system. More research is needed, however there is a small amount of evidence that suggests some types of contraception, such as the combined contraceptive pill, may increase your risk of getting thrush.
Speak to a medical professional
Getting medical advice as soon as you notice a problem can help to get rid of your infection quickly and prevent complications. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about speaking to your doctor or pharmacist about any ‘unusual’ symptoms you’re experiencing – we’re here to help.
Often, you can get treatments for thrush over the counter, and you can get these from your local pharmacist. If your vaginal thrush symptoms get worse or you’re experiencing it regularly (more than four times each year), speak to your doctor.
Avoid using perfumed products
If you have thrush, you might find it helps to stop using soap or perfumed shower and bath products around your genital area. Instead, it’s best to use water or non-perfumed moisturising cream – if you’re unsure what type to use, ask a pharmacist for advice.
Other perfumed products such as feminine deodorants, biological washing powder and fabric conditioner may increase irritation and are best avoided.
Practice good hygiene
To prevent triggering a recurrent thrush infection, make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle, keep your immune system strong, and practice good hygiene. You can do this by taking regular showers (and drying yourself properly), avoid wearing tight-fitted clothes, avoid douching (washing out your vagina with water or special douching fluid), and washing your hands frequently.
If you have thrush, it’s also best to avoid sexual activity until the infection has completely cleared up. Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection but does share some similar symptoms with other infections; so, it’s a good idea to rule these out. Thrush symptoms can also be triggered after sex.
Confide in your loved ones
It can be tough to deal with a recurrent health problem, particularly if you feel embarrassed. It can be a huge relief to speak to your close friends or family (whoever you’re most comfortable with) about how you’re feeling. If it’s causing you to experience a low mood, remember that your doctor is available and will support you, too.Alternatively, you can find support through reputable sources online, for example the NHS, Patient, and Bupa.
I hope this article has been helpful to you. I’ve found that taking a probiotic specifically designed to target the intimate areas has benefited me hugely and over the last couple of years I’ve had less infections which I believe is attributed to this. I use Optibac. Their product ‘For Women’ contains friendly bacteria strains especially found in the vaginal & urinary tracts, scientifically proven to reach the intimate area, and to complement the vaginal flora. It’s suitable for women of all ages and is backed by over 30 years of research.
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