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Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that affects most women at some point.
It may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but can usually be treated with medication available from pharmacies or on prescription from your GP.
However, for some women, vaginal thrush can be difficult to treat and keeps coming back.
This page covers:
Typical symptoms of vaginal thrush include:
Sometimes the skin around the vagina can be red, swollen or cracked. Occasionally there may also be sores on the skin, although this is more often a sign of genital herpes.
You can use the vagina problems visual guide to help find out what could be causing your symptoms.
It's a good idea to get medical advice from your GP or a sexual health clinic if:
Thrush isn't usually anything to worry about in these cases, but your doctor may want to take a swab from your vagina to confirm the diagnosis and/or carry out tests to check for any underlying cause.
They can also advise you about the most suitable treatment and give you a prescription, if necessary.
Mild thrush can usually be treated with a short course of antifungal medication. The symptoms will usually clear up within a week or two.
Treatment may need to be continued for longer if you have repeated bouts of thrush.
Several thrush medicines can be bought over the counter from pharmacies, while others are only available on prescription from your GP.
The main types are:
These treatments are all equally effective. You can usually choose the treatment you prefer, although pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn't take the capsules.
You can also get creams to apply to the skin surrounding the entrance of your vagina. These can help relieve itchiness and soreness, although you may find that an ordinary emollient (moisturiser) works just as well.
Read more about treating vaginal thrush.
Vaginal thrush is caused by yeasts from a group of fungi called Candida.
Many women have Candida in their vagina without it causing any problems, but thrush can develop if the natural balance of micro-organisms in the vagina is disrupted and Candida multiplies.
You're more likely to get thrush if you:
Vaginal thrush isn't classed as an STI, but it can be triggered by sex – particularly if you have trouble relaxing and your vagina is dry – and can occasionally be passed on to sexual partners.
If you get thrush frequently, you can:
Some women eat probiotic yoghurt or supplements to prevent vaginal thrush, but there's little evidence to suggest this works.