Vaginal thrush is quite a common infection that is caused by an increase in a yeast called Candida albicans. This yeast lives naturally in the different areas of the body including the vagina and is usually kept at harmless levels by the body's immune system. In certain situations the yeast levels in the vagina grow too quickly, resulting in vaginal thrush causing a range of unpleasant symptoms.
Possible reasons that thrush may occur include a weakened immune system, taking antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes, wearing tight-fitting clothing, and taking oral contraceptives. The most common symptoms of thrush include itching and burning of the vagina. Other symptoms that occur include a thick white discharge, inflammation and soreness of the area, and pain while urinating or during sex. Vaginal thrush is usually diagnosed by your symptoms. As other conditions can cause similar symptoms, a swab is sometimes taken to confirm diagnosis.
Many women are able to treat the symptoms of vaginal thrush by using over-the-counter treatments such as antifungal creams or vaginal pessaries. Anti-thrush oral tablets, called fluconazole, may be taken to treat severe cases but should be used under the supervision of a doctor and are not to be taken by pregnant women.
It's not known why some women are more prone to vaginal thrush but it is known that it's caused by a change in the pH levels of the vagina. The pH levels of the vagina are affected by hormonal changes which is why pregnant, menopausal and women at the start of their period are sometimes more prone to developing the infection.
There are various suggestions for helping to prevent thrush recurring. These include wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing, avoiding sugar, wiping from front to back after going to the toilet, avoiding using perfumed products around the area such as soaps and fragranced toilet paper and using a more natural laundry detergent. In addition, acidophilus (such as in Blackmores Acidophilus Bifidus) and garlic tablets can be useful. Some products you can try include Swisse Professional Candida Care and Blackmore’s Women’s Bio Balance.