Vaginal thrush occurs when there’s an overgrowth of the yeast, Candida albicans in the vagina.
Candida Spores are in the air and thrive in warm, moist places such as the groin. Scary as it is, but one in five women have the spores either present in an inactive state, or surviving quite happily in low numbers, kept in check by other healthy bacteria such as Lactobicillus acidophilus.
Doctors still don’t know if the yeast cells come and go or are present all the time. Recent studies have proven that Candida remains in the vagina for at least several months and possibly for years at a time without doing any obvious harm. It is only when the natural balance is tipped due to hormones, acidity, sugar content or the numbers and types of bacteria present that you start getting the symptoms associated with thrush.
Why do I get it?
Doctors have discovered that thrush is more likely to appear around the time of a period. It is also more likely in women who are pregnant, have uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, or who use oral contraceptives. You may have heard this before but antibiotics actually kill off the healthy bacteria (eg. Lactobacillus acidophilus) which is found in the vagina. These healthy bacteria keep Candida at bay. If you have slightly low levels of iron as well this can often cause thrush. Iron is needed by the white blood cells to make the chemicals used to destroy infections.
You have to remember that symptoms do vary from person to person so thrush symptoms can include:
- Genital itching
- A yeasty smell
- Vulval and vaginal soreness or burning
- A white, cottage-cheese-like discharge
- Cystitis-like pain on passing urine
- Needing to go to the toilet more often than usual
How do I definitely know I have thrush?
You can often tell just from the symptoms that you have thrush but it is best to visit your local doctor where they can take a swab, as diagnosing Candida from symptoms and examination alone is not always accurate.
What is the treatment?
There are a variety of anti-fungal treatments available. Some antifungal agents are used as creams or pessaries. You may also be given oral antibiotics as well.
- When you have your period try to change panty liners or tampons as necessary as you can through the day. Try to avoid getting to hot and sweaty before changing.
- That old wives tale is true, tight underwear, especially nylon anything or tight trousers can be the cause of it. Doctors recommend cotton everything. Bonds undies are some of the best. Check them out at www.davidjones.com.au
- Try to keep away from vaginal douches or vaginal deodorants as they can often upset your natural acid and bacterial balance.
- Eat an iron-rich diet and take multi-vitamins and minerals with iron to help prevent recurring attacks.
- As icky as this seems, smearing live Bio yoghurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus around the vulva will help to replenish the levels of healthy bacteria.
- Eat a tub of yoghurt a day that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus.Note: If you do think you have recurrent thrush, and you haven’t been to the doctor it is best you go so you can get a full check-up and get that itch under control.