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Thrush is a very common vaginal infection caused by a type of yeast called Candida.

This yeast is normally present in parts of the body and vaginal thrush can be present with no symptoms. This can be normal and many cases settle without treatment.

Sometimes an overgrowth of yeast can occur and symptoms may develop. This can be caused by things like:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Pregnancy
  • Medication, such as antibiotics and steroids
  • Medical conditions like diabetes

What are the symptoms of thrush?

Symptoms of vaginal thrush include:

  • discomfort and itching around the vagina
  • a burning sensation and pain when passing urine and during sex
  • thick, white, lumpy discharge
  • redness and swelling of the vagina
  • small breaks in the skin around the vagina.

How is thrush spread?

Thrush is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and person-to-person spread does not usually occur. However, sexual activity can sometimes make thrush symptoms worse.

If you have thrush, your partner/s don’t usually need treatment. If your partner has a penis, they may get redness and irritation after sex and may need treatment if this persists.

Treatment for thrush

Thrush is usually treated with anti-fungal creams, tablets or pessaries (dissolving tablets placed into the vagina). These are available from any chemist over-the-counter without a prescription (script).

Patients with frequently recurring thrush, or thrush that does not improve with simple treatment, should seek medical advice to make sure they do not have a medical condition such as diabetes. A longer course of treatment with oral tablets may be required.

Sexual partners of people with thrush do not require treatment, except occasionally in the case of recurrent infections.

Prevention of thrush

To help prevent thrush:

  • wear loose pants or skirts, to promote air movement
  • wear cotton underwear, to reduce moist conditions that may encourage Candida growth
  • avoid using soaps or sprays in the genital area, as they can cause irritation
  • wash your hands before touching the vaginal area
  • wash your hands after going to the toilet
  • wipe from front to back after going to the toilet
  • wash the genital area with water only and also gently wipe the area dry
  • don’t have vaginal sex straight after anal sex
  • wash thoroughly after anal sex and use a new condom and water-based lubricant before engaging in vaginal sex.

Family Planning Tasmania services

We can help by assessing and diagnosing thrush and other vaginal and vulval problems, and helping with management. This may include:

  • Medication
  • Creams/ointments
  • Avoiding certain products
  • Lifestyle changes

If you need assistance, advice or treatment for thrush, vaginal and vulval health or any other sexual or reproductive health issue, please make an appointment with one of our friendly doctors.

This content is provided for general information and education purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances. It is not to be relied on in substitution for specific advice from a medical professional and Family Planning Tasmania does not accept responsibility for such use. Family Planning Tasmania has taken every effort to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate, however information and knowledge is subject to change. Family Planning Tasmania advises that you always consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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