Vaginal thrush is an infection of the vagina and/or vulva with a yeast germ called candida.
What is vaginal thrush?
We are all mostly blissfully unaware of a host of germs which live harmlessly inside us. One of these germs is a type of fungus, a yeast called candida. Fungi like warm, wet places, and a vagina is a perfect home for them. Most of the time, these candida germs reside peaceably within their vaginal abode without causing any problems. In certain conditions, however, the normal happy balance is disturbed and they multiply and then cause symptoms.
When there are more of these germs than usual, they cause an inflammation of the vagina or the skin folds outside the vagina (the vulva). You then feel that inflammation as an itch or soreness, and you may notice a discharge.
Vaginal thrush is extremely common. Up to three quarters of women will get it at some point in their lives. It is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection, although occasionally it is passed on during sex. More often, it is an overgrowth of a germ which is already there but not previously causing a problem.
Further reading and references
Sexually Transmitted Infections in Primary Care; Royal College of General Practitioners and British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (Apr 2013)
Candida - female genital; NICE CKS, November 2016 (UK access only)
Martin Lopez JE; Candidiasis (vulvovaginal). BMJ Clin Evid. 2015 Mar 162015. pii: 0815.
British National Formulary; NICE Evidence Services (UK access only)
Abad CL, Safdar N; The role of lactobacillus probiotics in the treatment or prevention of urogenital infections - a systematic review. J Chemother. 2009 Jun21(3):243-52.
Fischer G, Bradford J; Vulvovaginal candidiasis in postmenopausal women: the role of hormone replacement therapy. J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2011 Oct15(4):263-7. doi: 10.1097/LGT.0b013e3182241f1a.
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