Thrush is a yeast (fungal) infection. It is a common issue in men but women are more affected. Thrush can affect various places such as the mouth, skin, urinary system, genitals, armpits, groin and between fingers, etc but we will be focusing on genital thrush in men and women
What causes Genital Thrush (Candidiasis)?
It is commonly caused by a fungus called candida. This germ is usually present and harmless on the skin of the penis or vagina but certain instances can cause it to multiply and become harmful.
Genital Thrush is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection but sometimes it can be triggered by sex. It usually grows in warm, moist conditions and occurs when there is a change in bacteria balance.
It is more common around the age of 20-40 years and 70% of women have reported vulva/vaginal thrush at some point in their lifetime
Situations that increase the risk of this infection:
- Finishing a course of antibiotics
- Weak immune system due to HIV, steroids, chemotherapy, etc
- Tight foreskin- Men who have had circumcision are less likely to have it
- Foreign body in the vagina
Common Symptoms of Genital Thrush
Some men and women show no symptoms. However common symptoms include:
- Red rash at the tip of the penis
- Soreness or itching of the penis
- Pain or discomfort when urinating or having sex
- Whitish (cottage cheese) discharge
- Difficulty in pulling the foreskin back
- Itching and soreness of the vulva
- White cheesy vagina discharge
- Pain on urination or sex
What Can you do when you notice this?
Certain sexually transmitted infections may present this same way, it is always best to speak with a health practitioner especially when you first notice this. If an individual has recurring infections, tests may be done to exclude other causes.
Thrush can be treated by antifungal cream or vaginal inserts and in some cases, oral medication may be indicated. One’s partner does not necessarily need treatment unless the partner has symptoms or signs of thrush
- Dry properly after washing
- Shower after exercise and dry yourself thoroughly
- Do not wear tight underwear, shorts, or tights
- Allergy can develop from contact with wet wipes, bubble baths and wash products and can be a trigger for thrush, so take showers rather than baths
- Do not use douches or deodorants on your vagina or penis
- Avoid synthetic underwear – cotton is best.
- Avoid applying topical irritants such as perfumed products as it may cause an irritation
- Practice good hygiene; in females- wipe from front to back when visiting the toilet
- Keep your penis clean – wash regularly, and dry thoroughly.
- Moisturize with an emollient such as E45 or use water instead of soap to wash the affected area
If you or your partner have thrush, it is best to avoid sex until you have been treated. Using a condom will also help prevent transmission, but condoms may be affected by the creams used to treat thrush and reduce the efficacy
So practice good hygiene, have safe sex, and stay healthy