Thrush is caused an overgrowth of yeast. It’s common and anyone can get it.

It’s not an STI. It’s unusual for it to be passed on during sex, but some people find they get it after having sex.

Vaginal thrush is very common. Around 75% of women and people with uteruses will have it at some point. It can be uncomfortable but it’s very easily treated. It's not a threat to your health.

What are the symptoms?

The signs of vaginal thrush can include:

  • itching and soreness around the entrance of the vagina

  • a stinging sensation when you urinate

  • vaginal discharge – usually thick and white, often described as being like cottage cheese

  • pain during vaginal sex

You may also have more severe symptoms, such as:

  • red and swollen vagina and vulva

  • cracked skin around the entrance of your vagina, that may bleed

Thrush of the penis and male genitals is a lot less common. Symptoms usually appear around the head of the penis and the foreskin. They include:

  • irritation, burning and redness

  • a thick, white build up

  • difficulty pulling back the foreskin

Long term effects

Although thrush does not cause serious long-term health problems, it can be upsetting if you keep getting it. Some people find it can cause anxiety around sex, and can affect their sexual relationships.

If you experience thrush regularly, we recommend speaking to someone at a sexual health clinic or your GP. They can help with management and treatment options.

Testing and treatment

You can get thrush treatment over the counter at pharmacies. It's

You can also speak to a sexual health clinic or GP about recognising and treating thrush. It's a good idea to see someone if:

  • it’s the first time you’ve had the symptoms

  • you're under 16 or over 60

  • you’ve had thrush more than 4 times in 12 months

  • you're pregnant or breastfeeding

  • you have a weakened immune system

They may carry out a physical examination and take a swab from the affected area. Then they can offer you prescription treatment or suggest the right over-the-counter ones.

Thrush can usually be treated quite easily with tablets. Some are taken orally, others inserted into your vagina.

Anti-thrush creams, which you apply to the skin around the entrance to the vagina, can ease soreness and itchiness. Remember these creams can weaken condoms and cause them to break.

Most people find the treatments work well and that vaginal thrush clears up within a few days, but it can take up to 2 weeks. Always use your treatment for as long as you’ve been instructed to by your nurse, doctor or pharmacist.

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