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Emma Kalman




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Published on: 11 Oct 2016 by e-kalman

What Is Vaginal Thrush and What Causes It?

Vaginal thrush is a very common infection that develops in the warm and moist parts of the body such as the vagina and mouth. It is also referred to as candidiasis and, more commonly, yeast infection. It affects almost 75% of women at some point in their lives.

How does vaginal thrush occur?

Vaginal thrush is caused by the Candida genus of yeast and the species Candida Albicans which is responsible for almost 90% of all cases of vaginal thrush. This yeast occurs naturally in the vaginal area and the body produces Lactobacillus bacteria to keep the yeast in check. Due to an imbalance in the environment, the yeast can become overgrown and that causes vaginal thrush to develop.

There are various reasons why this imbalance can occur and develop into vaginal thrush:

·         Taking antibiotics – the affected woman may be taking antibiotics for a different problem, but the medication prevents the production of Lactobacillus bacteria, leaving the Candida yeast to multiply freely

·         Contraceptives – some contraceptive medication contain estrogen, and these cause a hormonal imbalance that may lead to a yeast infection

·         Hormonal imbalance close to the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy – the hormonal imbalance at the period before the menstrual cycle may decrease the production of Lactobacillus bacteria. Pregnancy also leads to a hormonal imbalance and may have a similar effect

·         Stress and lack of sleep – studies have shown time and again that stress can affect the body’s hormones and may lead to vaginal thrush

·         Diabetes and a weak immune system – these do not directly lead to vaginal thrush, but a woman with such problems is at a higher risk of getting the yeast infection

Contrary to popular belief, vaginal thrush is not sexually transmitted and the woman may still engage in sexual activity. The woman might feel some discomfort during or after the activity, and the man may have some redness afterward, but that doesn’t mean that the infection has been spread.

What are the symptoms of vaginal thrush?

The most common symptoms of a yeast infection include:

·         Vaginal discomfort – itchiness, burning and soreness around the entrance of the vagina (labia)

·         Vaginal discharge – there is usually a thick, white discharge that has a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance and a ‘yeasty’ smell

·         Redness and/or swelling of the vagina or vulva

·         A stinging or burning sensation during sex or while urinating

·         Splits on the genital skin

Diagnosis and treatment

Vaginal thrush can be easily identified from its signs and symptoms. Various antifungal creams and vaginal pessaries can be bought over-the-counter and may be applied inside and around the vagina. These should be used for a few days, usually less than a week since continued use can lead to skin irritation.

Tablets containing fluconazole also have a similar function and can be taken orally to reduce the yeast infection. However, they are not recommended for pregnant women.

Symptoms of vaginal thrush should disappear after these measures are taken, and they usually do. In rare cases, though, the problem may become recurring, returning after proper medication, in which case it may be important to see a doctor for further advice.

How to Prevent Vaginal Thrush Naturally?

Being a common problem, most women will know what triggers a vaginal thrush – such as when taking antibiotics. While there are several ways to prevent the problem naturally, it’s more important to identify your particular triggers to avoid them.


Particularly, your underwear needs to be loose enough to allow the area to breathe. Yeast infection is an anaerobic infection which prefers to grow in dark and moist regions, and the vaginal region is prime real estate for yeast. Wearing underwear made from polyester or nylon further promotes this environment by holding in moisture and allowing the yeast to grow. Also avoid wearing tight pants, tights, and pantyhose whenever you can because they don’t allow proper aeration of the genital area.

Instead, try to wear loose-fitting underwear when you can, and if this isn’t possible, stick to cotton underwear. Cotton allows for air to pass through it, providing ventilation to the area. Avoid frequent hot tub baths whenever you can and don’t sit around in wet clothing such as bathing suits. Remember to also change clothes after a workout soon thereafter.


Be careful what you use on your body. Certain soaps and detergents when used to take a bath or wash your underwear may irritate your skin and cause an imbalance in the environment and kill the important bacteria. Scented tampons and pads may also have the same effect as well as certain douching products used by women.

Instead, use unscented products for the area and mild cleansers for your underwear to protect yourself from adverse reactions. Do not also spray the vaginal area with powders or sprays to avoid destroying important bacteria.


It’s always important to maintain a good hygiene, but too much of something often is dangerous. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG), for example, advise women against douching because it kills the important bacteria essential for preventing vaginal thrush. Instead, simply wash the outside areas of the vagina using gentle soap and water.

Also, wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to prevent the spreading of bacteria from the anus to the vagina.

For diabetics

High glucose levels in the blood, has been linked to various infections, including vaginal thrush. Consequently, a diabetic is at a higher risk of getting vaginal thrush and should control their blood sugar levels more effectively if they are to prevent vaginal thrush from occurring.

Proper diet and stress management

Stress has been linked to all manner of medical conditions, including infections such as vaginal thrush. Thus, it is important to manage your stress levels adequately by relaxing and getting adequate sleep. As for diet, there isn’t any medical research to link diet to vaginal thrush, but some women have claimed that excessive intake of beer and sugar has led to a development of a yeast infection.

Prevention is always better than cure. So don’t wait around until you get a yeast infection to be rushing down to the local pharmacy. Observing these simple prevention measures can keep you away from recurring cases of the problem and allow you to live a better life.

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