Many vaginal discomforts can be put down to thrush, also known as vaginal yeast or candida infection. A vaginal yeast infection is caused by Candida albicans, a micro-organism that is commonly found on our skin and mucous membranes. However, when the vaginal flora gets disrupted (by use of antibiotics, intensive washing, vaginal dryness etc.) or due to other factors (such as hormonal fluctuations), candida can overgrow and cause discomforts such as itching, irritation, pain and discharge. This is referred to as a vaginal yeast infection. Some women are more prone to vaginal yeast infection than others.
The main symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are:
It is important to make a distinction between vaginal thrush and bacterial vaginosis. Even though these two problems can have similar symptoms, the appropriate therapy is rather different.
In the vast majority of the cases, thrush is not considered an infection as such, but can be regarded as an imbalance of the vaginal flora, so usually the treatment does not apply to male partners. Candida can be easily treated with antimycotics, although their effect does not stop the vaginal yeast infection from recurring. Natural products, rather than antibiotic approaches are considered a longer term solution, because they optimise the vaginal flora, help it fight off the vaginal yeast infection, and can be used as a prevention method for keeping thrush at bay. The infection can sometimes cause soreness and pain, and therefore make intercourse unpleasant.
There are products that can relieve itching and irritation in the intimate area (sprays, creams, and gels), but which do not, on their own, treat the cause of the itch. These products can be used in addition to the primary therapy. If the symptoms do not get better after some time, talk to your doctor or gynaecologist.
Vaginal thrush is often a recurring infection: some women get it more often than others. This might be down to their hormonal levels. Hormones are also responsible for thrush occurring more often in a certain period of the monthly cycle, as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding. To prevent repeated discomfort, women who are especially prone to vaginal yeast infections could consider to use an vaginal gel that stimulates the beneficial vaginal flora and prevents outgrowth of yeast at regular intervals or in days preceding their vulnerable period.