What is thrush?

Learn what thrush is and what common yeast infection symptoms can help identify it. You can also find out how you can treat thrush and how you can prevent it from recurring


It’s very common, but you rarely hear it in conversations between women. So let’s talk about thrush, a common yeast infection caused by a simple imbalance of natural vaginal fungus, predominantly Candida Albicans.

Normally, the things that keep candida in check are: good immune system, good bacteria (called lactobacilli) and healthy pH level. However, when the conditions in your vagina change to less acidic, bacteria start to overgrow. This in turn could lead to a yeast infection.1

It’s so common that every 3 out of 4 women get thrush at least once in their lives. Many women also suffer from recurring thrush.2 However, there are some circumstances that can make you more prone to getting this yeast infection. You are more at risk of getting thrush if:

  • You are pregnant 

  • You have recently finished a course of antibiotics 

  • You have diabetes 

  • You are on your period 

  • You take birth control pills 

  • You have been diagnosed with HIV3 

Don’t worry! Thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection. 

Thrush symptoms

There are some common symptoms of thrush that are easy to spot and recognize. You should remember that everyone is different, so yeast infection symptoms can vary and can be mild, moderate or more complicated.

You should watch out for these common thrush symptoms:   

  • Feeling of itchiness, burning, soreness of your vagina and redness and swelling of vaginal lips, 
  • Cottage cheese like discharge – whitish, thick and odorless discharge, 
  • Uncomfortable feeling when having sex.4 

If you are experiencing thrush for the first time, you should see a doctor. When you are diagnosed with thrush you can start treatment at home. Fortunately, thrush doesn’t take long to clear up, but you should also consider seeing a doctor if:

  • You are under 16, 

  • Your thrush recurs frequently, more than twice in 6 months, 

  • Treatment has not worked, 

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding, 

  • Your immune system is weakened, for example you have diabetes, HIV infection or undergo chemotherapy.5

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Thrush treatment

In most cases, it is easy to treat vaginal thrush. For complete relief, you should use vaginal pessary to treat the infection and external cream which can help relieve your symptoms. Canesten offers a range of products like the vaginal pessary and external creams so you can decide which treatment option is more comfortable for you to use. Thrush should clear up within a week after one dose of medicine and/ or using the cream daily.6 Do not be tempted to use external cream only. It will help relieve your symptoms of yeast infection but it won’t get rid of the cause of vaginal thrush. Check with your pharmacist or doctor for more information. Read the package insert prior to use.

Thrush prevention

Some people suffer from recurring thrush which may be caused by their lifestyle choices. If thrush symptoms are a problem, you can change some habits to stop yeast infection from coming back. First of all, you should remember that your intimate area has different pH than the rest of the body so using regular, perfumed soaps and shower gels can disturb the pH balance in your vagina.

Wearing very tight and synthetic underwear and clothes such as tight leggings can encourage the growth of candida because of the trapped moisture. It is also recommended to change wet clothes like swimming costume or workout outfit straight away. Other tips for avoiding thrush include:

  • Avoid using deodorants and douches in and around your vaginal area 

  • Avoid stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep your immune system strong 

  • Avoid high sugar foods

  • Change your tampons and pads frequently 

  • Ensure you wipe from front to back when in toilet to avoid spreading the bacteria from your anus to your vagina 

  • Avoid very hot baths 7,8

Thrush, also known as a yeast infection can happen to anyone. It is easy to spot the symptoms and treatment can be very straightforward. However, if you suffer from recurring thrush, consider taking probiotics can to help you maintain the natural levels of good bacteria in your vagina.


  1. Vaginal yeast infection (thrush): Overview, Introduction, in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK543220/
  2. Summary, in: Per-Anders Mardh, Acacio G Rodrigues et al.: Facts and myths on recurrent vulvovaginal candidosis, in: International Journal of STD & AIDS 2002; 13: 522± 539
  3. Proposed and denied pathogenic factors for recurrent vulvovaginal candidosis (RVVC), in: Per-Anders Mardh, Acacio G Rodrigues et al., in: Op. cit.
  4. Vaginal yeast infection (thrush): Overview, Symptoms, in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK543220/
  5. See a GP or go to a sexual health clinic, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/
  6. Thrush treatment, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/
  7. Host and exogenous factors influencing host-parasite interactions, in: Per-Anders Mardh, Acacio G Rodrigues et al., in: Op. cit.
  8. Things you can do yourself to ease discomfort and prevent thrush returning, in: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/thrush-in-men-and-women/