Vulvovaginal candidiasis is an infection of the vagina and vulva with a fungus. Thrush is when this infection is caused by candida albicans, which is responsible for 90% of candidiasis infections. Thrush is the most common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge and can lead to a variety of symptoms such as itchiness, burning, pain during intercourse and pain when urine passes over the inflamed genital area.However, around 20% of women are asymptomatic (symptom free). The vulva and vagina can look red in colour and there is often a thick, odourless, white ‘cottage cheese’ discharge from the vagina.
Some risk factors for thrush include: pregnancy, a weakened immune system, diabetes, the Pill and antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria in the vagina, leaving it free to be overrun by candida. Diagnosis of a candida infection must be done by looking at a sample in laboratory. Most cases of thrush are straightforward to treat and need conservative management such as reducing stress levels, boosting up the immune system with consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, avoiding gluten and simple sugar, wearing cotton underwear, not wearing any underwear at night, avoiding tight clothing / G- string during the day.
One can consider consuming Acidophilus tablets orally and vaginally. Sometimes one may require a vaginal cream/ oral medication such as Diflucan. Candida is air-borne and so is not considered to be sexually transmitted but 10% of male partners also have the same infection and should also have a swab taken and treated if the infection is confirmed.