What is Thrush?

Thrush (vulvovaginal candidiasis) is a common fungal infection of the vulva and vagina that affects most women at some time in their lives.

Thrush is caused by yeast called candida which normally lives harmlessly in the vagina without you even noticing it. Normally, there is a delicate balance between bacteria and yeasts that live naturally within the vagina. However, the natural pH balance of the vagina that keeps candida under control can be upset by many factors. If the natural pH balance is altered, the level of yeast increases and can develop into a thrush infection.

Thrush affects women of all ages but is most common in women aged between 25-35, pregnant women and menopausal women.

Thrush can be caused by a number of internal and external factors

Internal factors:

  • Emotional of physical stress may increase the risk of thrush as it affects your immune system, making you more vulnerable to thrush.
  • Pregnancy: Hormone levels during pregnancy may create high levels of sugars in vaginal secretions.
  • Periods: Menstrual blood affects the vagina by changing the acidity or pH.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes often have high blood sugar levels, including in their vaginal secretions.

External factors:

  • Perfumed soaps and bubble baths: These products may increase the risk of thrush as they increase the natural acidity (pH) of the vagina.
  • Poor diet: High sugar/yeast intake contributes to thrush by increasing urinary sugar.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics kill friendly bacteria which keep yeast in the vagina under control.
  • Wearing tight synthetic clothing: These can prevent the air from circulating and can create a warm, moist place for thrush to develop.
  • Sexual intercourse: External stimuli may change the balanced environment of the vagina.
  • Contraceptive pill: There is evidence to suggest that a high dose contraceptive pill can cause thrush.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy weakens your immune system, making you more prone to thrush.

The Naked Truth: What is thrush and what are the symptoms?


Who gets thrush?

Having thrush is normal- around 75% of women will experience it at least once in their lives, while many women may suffer from recurrent thrush. Thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection.

First time sufferers

If you’ve never had thrush before and you think you may have it, visit your doctor. Once you recognise your own symptoms and you know they’re not serious, it’s easy to treat with a range of over-the-counter products

Thrush and pregnancy

The Naked Truth: Thrush and pregnancy


Thrush will not stop you from getting pregnant. However, some of the symptoms may make having sex uncomfortable.

If you’re pregnant it’s completely natural for your hormones to change and affect your body – so your chances of getting thrush increase.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and you have thrush, speak to your doctor before taking any treatments.

Lady in baseball hat

3 out of 4…

Thrush is very common. 3 out of 4 women suffer from it at least once in their lives.


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