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When presenting with a mild case of vaginal thrush (yeast infection) then a short course of anti-fungal thrush treatment is usually the best option. These can be purchased over-the-counter without the need of a doctor’s prescription. These anti-fungal medications come in a variety of forms, including; capsules, creams and pessaries.
- The Thrush Capsule contains the anti-fungal ingredient fluconazole. Preparations available over-the-counter include the Canesten Oral Capsule and Canesten Oral & Cream Duo. These are swallowed whole and can be used instead of, or in conjunction with the creams and pessaries. The single dose fluconazole capsule is suitable to treat both male and female thrush.
- Thrush Creams contain the anti-fungal ingredient clotrimazole. Creams preparations available over-the-counter include; Clotrimazole Anti-Fungal Cream (Generic), Canesten Cream (which contains Clotrimazole 1%), Canesten Thrush Cream (containing Clotrimazole 2%), Canesten Cream Combi (containing an internal 500mg Clotrimazole Cream & an external 2% Clotrimazole Cream). Other preparations including a combination of creams & pessaries, plus, creams & tablets are also available. All preparations excluding the Internal Cream are designed to deal with the Candida on the skin around the vagina’s entrance.
- Thrush Pessary: The over-the-counter treatments contain clotrimazole in varying strengths (100mg, 200mg, and 500mg) these are designed to deal with the Candida that is inside the vagina. Examples of available treatments include; Canesten Pessary, (available in 100mg, 200mg & 500mg) and Canesten Soft Gel 500mg Pessary.
When deciding upon which of these treatments is the best for you, there are few factors that need to be considered. The oral thrush tablet is more convenient, however it is not suitable if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
The pessaries and creams are understandably less convenient than a simple single dose tablet but they have the advantage of acting directly in the area of infection. External creams are suitable during pregnancy, whereas anything used internally, i.e. pessaries and internal creams, should only be used under a doctor’s recommendation or with a valid prescription.
To reduce the chances of developing vaginal thrush there are a number of simple techniques that you can use. These include:
- Ensure the vaginal area is washed using water. It’s important to try and avoid using perfumed soaps, shower gels and vaginal deodorants.
- Use an emollient moisturiser such as E45 cream as a soap substitute. Then apply a greasier moisturiser to help soften and protect the skin.
- Try and avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear or tights.
- Try to avoid underwear made from synthetic materials like nylon.
- Antibiotics will affect the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, making you more prone to developing vaginal thrush. If you have had thrush before and you are about to start a course of antibiotics, it is recommended to purchase thrush treatment too.
- Avoid using anything that is known to irritate your vaginal area, such as latex condoms, lubricants and spermicidal creams.
- If you are experiencing any sexual issues with your partner, for example you don’t feel sufficiently lubricated during sex, then you should consider using a sensitive lubricant.
Does having thrush mean I’m dirty or unhygienic?
No, thrush is generally caused by an upset in the normal microorganisms that populate the vagina. Whilst it is important to ensure you regularly wash your genitals with unperfumed wash products, there are many causes of thrush – not just for hygiene reasons.
Will thrush clear up on it’s own?
Thrush can clear up on it’s own as the normal balance of flora in your vagina is restored however without treatment this may take some time. Using antifungal thrush treatments usually clears up most cases of vaginal thrush within 7 days.
Can I pass thrush on to sexual partners?
Yes, it is common to thrush on to sexual partners if you practice unprotected sex. Vaginal or penile thrush can also cause oral thrush if you engage in oral sex. Having unprotected sex if you have thrush can commonly lead to a re-infection cycle that can be hard to break where you infect your partner who in turn can re-infect you if you both are not treated.
Should I worry about thrush in pregnancy?
No, thrush occurs commonly in pregnancy. It is thought to be de to changes in hormone levels. Thrush will not harm your baby, however women with thrush should always seek treatment for their GP or midwife.
I have had thrush a number of times – how do I stop getting it?
There are a number of lifestyle measures you can adopt to help prevent thrush recurring. Washing your genitals with unperfumed soap, wearing loose-fitting, breathable, cotton underwear and trousers, ensuring you are properly lubricated before sex and urinating immediately after, will all help to prevent recurrent thrush. If you are experiencing regular episodes of thrush it is important to discuss this with your GP as it can be a sign of an underlying condition such as diabetes or a weakened immune system.
I’ve heard you can treat thrush using natural yoghurt – is this true?
No, there is no medical evidence that using natural yoghurt will help to treat thrush. Using proven antifungal treatments containing clotrimazole or fluconazole will help to cure your infection.
I have discharge that smells strongly – is this thrush?
Discharge that is coloured or has a strong odour is unlikely to be due to thrush. It is more common with bacterial infections such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). If you have either of these symptoms or you suspect BV you should see your GP for antibiotic treatment.