What is genital thrush?
Genital thrush also known as candidiasis and it’s an infection caused by a group of yeasts called candida. Vaginal thrush is the kind of thrush that people are most likely to think of, but there is also a kind of penis thrush that affects men.
What are the symptoms of genital thrush?
Signs of thrush include itching, soreness, and white discharge.
Genital Thrush Symptoms Women:
- A sore vulva, including itching and soreness around the labia
- A discharge from the vagina, either thick and white like cottage cheese or thin and watery
- A stinging feeling when urinating
- Pain during sex
Genital Thrush Symptoms Men:
- Irritation and redness around the head of the penis
- Difficulty pulling back the foreskin
- A bad smell
- Thick, white discharge, like cottage cheese
Male thrush can have similar symptoms to certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and a condition called balanitis, so it’s important to get it diagnosed by a medical professional to rule these out.
What causes genital thrush?
A group of yeasts called candida causes thrush. These yeasts are always in the body, especially in warm, moist areas such as the genitals. They are only an issue when they grow out of control, and it’s at this point that thrush develops.
How can you treat genital thrush?
Although thrush can be spread through sex, it’s not an STI. It’s not necessary to ensure that your sexual partner has treatment unless they’re also showing symptoms.
Thrush treatment for women:
- Pessaries and creams: Pessaries are tablets that are inserted into the vagina with a special applicator, usually daily for 1-6 days. Antifungal creams can also be inserted into the vagina with an applicator. Usually just one application is needed. Clotrimazole is available over the counter whereas econazole, miconazole and fenticonazole are prescription only.
- Tablets/capsules: These are often more convenient than creams or pessaries but can have side effects such as an upset stomach or vomiting. Fluconazole is commonly used as it can be bought over the counter although itraconazole is available on prescription.
Thrush treatment for men:
- Cream: For thrush affecting any part of the body besides the penis, an imidazole treatment is usually preferable.
- Tablets: For penis thrush, fluconazole is recommended. Fluconazole is also used as an alternative to imidazole.
What can you do to help prevent genital thrush?
To avoid outbreaks of genital thrush, there are a few things you can do. You can avoid using scented soaps and shower gels. You might also try wearing special silk or cotton underwear, and be sure that the underwear you do wear isn’t too tight. It may also be a good idea to avoid wearing tights for the same reason.
If you’re a man whose sexual partner has thrush, be sure to wear a condom when you have sex to lessen the chances that it will be spread to you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does male thrush take to clear up?
With the correct treatment, male thrush is likely to clear up within a week. If your symptoms persist for two weeks, you should consult your GP.