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Vaginal thrush

3-minute read

Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection caused by the candida species of fungus. It is easily treated and can be prevented.

Thrush occurs in many areas of the body, but especially in the vagina, anus and mouth.

Candida is usually found in the vagina and is harmless, but when the fungus multiplies it can cause irritation and swelling both in the vagina and vulva. In most cases, the condition can be treated effectively.

Vaginal thrush can affect women of any age, although it is more common in women between the ages of 15 and 50 years old. It is unusual in girls who have not yet begun their periods and in older women after menopause.

What are the symptoms of vaginal thrush?

The most common symptoms of vaginal thrush are itchiness, irritation and redness in and around the vagina. If you have vaginal thrush, you might also notice:

  • a thick, white or creamy vaginal discharge, which may look like cottage cheese
  • pain and/or discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • a burning sensation when urinating

Up to 1 in 5 women with vaginal thrush do not experience noticeable symptoms.

Is vaginal thrush treatable during pregnancy?

If you are pregnant and have thrush (or think you might have thrush), you should see your doctor before starting any treatment.

Vaginal thrush is treatable during pregnancy, and it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to develop the condition, especially during the third trimester. However, some anti-thrush medicines are not advised for pregnant women, so if you are pregnant you should discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Many babies also develop thrush once they are born. Thrush in babies can be easily treated too. Mothers are advised to visit their doctor or ask their health visitor for advice.

Is vaginal thrush transmitted during sex?

Thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and many people already have a small amount of candida in their bodies before they have sexual content with a partner. In fact, the organism is more common in people who are not sexually active.

However, sexual activity can worsen thrush and the infection can make sex uncomfortable.

When should I seek medical advice about vaginal thrush?

You should seek medical advice if:

  • the treatment you are using for vaginal thrush is not working
  • you keep getting thrush despite treatment
  • you start to feel unwell, particularly if you think you have a high temperature
  • you have a weakened immune system

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your vaginal thrush, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2019

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