Thrush is a yeast infection which is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. In normal circumstances, Candida exists harmlessly, with the levels present within the body being controlled and kept in check by bacteria.
However, when these levels slip out of control thrush can occur. Both men and women can get thrush and although it is not classed as an STD it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. If you suspect that the infection has occurred it is important to take steps to rid yourself of the infection as quickly as possible.
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There are certain circumstances that are known to heighten the risk of thrush. Pregnancy, immune system-threatening illnesses such as diabetes and HIV, undergoing chemotherapy and taking antibiotics all make thrush more likely.
When someone has a yeast infection, if they have sexual intercourse the fungus can be transferred to their partner causing them to become infected too. Also, sexual intercourse during thrush can prolong the infection. The symptoms of thrush between men and women can differ notably.
If a woman develops a yeast infection, she may notice itching, soreness, and redness around her vagina, pain whilst passing urine and a thick discharge comparable to the texture of cottage cheese. Sometimes the symptoms of thrush may go unnoticed and the condition may be diagnosed by a doctor during a cervical screening test for example. Candida thrives in warm and moist conditions, so it is recommended that tight clothing around the vaginal area is avoided. It is also advised that hot baths are avoided whilst waiting for the infection to clear up.
In men, symptoms of thrush also include pain and discomfort when passing urine and a similar discharge as above, only under the foreskin. Redness and soreness under the foreskin and on the tip of and around the penis are other symptoms of thrush in men.
Yeast infections can also occur in the mouth as oral thrush. People who are likely to develop oral thrush include smokers, people with poor oral hygiene and those who are deficient in iron and certain vitamins. Antibiotics are also known to kill good as well as bad bacteria meaning that the defense against an abundance of candida is weakened, allowing the fungus to flow freely.
Again, those with poor immune systems are more likely to develop oral thrush.You can only be clear over whether you have developed a yeast infection by having a test. These are free on the NHS.
Tests involve a swab being taken in order for a sample of cells to be tested, and the genital areas are also examined. Over the counter treatments are usually acceptable, tough pregnant women are advised not to use these to treat thrush and instead seek further medical advice.
Treatments involve pessaries, anti fungal cream or pills. If you’re using contraception whilst thrush is being treated it is important to remember that some creams can compromise the efficiency of condoms. A yeast infection can go away on its own eventually due to the body’s natural defenses against infections, but treatment is still advised in any case.