What About Thrush?
(Also Called Yeast Infection or Candidiasis)
I heard a friend of mine talking about “thrush” recently and although she gave a thorough explanation, I would like a medical overview. Can you provide one? I mean, I’d really like to know if it’s thrush or it’s BV (bacterial vaginosis) that she’s talking about. – L
Rather than reinvent the wheel, so to speak, the following is an extract from my new book that covers the most commonly asked questions about thrush – and links to more information on this website, too.
It is available by mail order via www.KnoxPublishing.com in Britain and globally via iBooks and Kobo – see the links to the right of this page.
What is genital thrush?
Genital thrush, or candidiasis, is one of several fungal or yeast infections and it is not categorised as a sexually acquired infection. Although there are approximately 150 different types of candidiasis, genital thrush is usually caused by the organism called Candida albicans, and occasionally another called Candida glabrata.
Here, the term genital thrush rather than Candida, candidiasis or yeast infection will be used. But around the world it is also called by other names. In women, it is also called vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC).
Is genital thrush sexually acquired?
Genital thrush is not sexually acquired. Anyone can develop it, even if they have never had sex.
If the vagina is dry, it may be aggravated by penetrative sex and by internal ejaculation of particularly alkaline semen. Oral sex may increase a woman’s chance of developing genital thrush but masturbation is quite safe.
How common is genital thrush?
The majority of women will experience genital thrush at some me in their lives and many harbour it without any symptoms that require treatment.
Genital thrush is the second most common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge in women of childbearing age, the first being BV (bacterial vaginosis).
What might a women notice if she has genital thrush?
Women with genital thrush may notice one or more of the following:
• commonly there is a thick, white vaginal discharge with a curd-like consistency similar to co age cheese;
• malodour – although thrush does not usually smell, there may sometimes be a yeast-like odour (similar to dough when making bread);
• vulval and/or vaginal irritation and/or itching, which may be quite intense;
• superficial pain during sex and/or generalised erythema in the vulva (redness and soreness in the genital area); vulval rawness and redness from scratching, which may lead to an excruciatingly painful, burning sensation when passing urine;
• generalised oedema (swelling due to fluid retention), fissure formation (small skin tears) and lesions (sores) away from the initial area which may appear like a very sore “nappy rash”, perhaps even spreading to the anal area and buttocks.
There is no guarantee of a cure for any of the viral sexual infections, although there are treatments to minimise the effects.
Does the oral contraceptive pill give a woman genital thrush?
No. Not specifically.
Today’s oral contraceptive pills contain a low dose of oestrogen compared to the higher-dose pills of the past.
Is there a link between thrush and HIV infection?
There appears to be a link between HIV and recurrent genital thrush, particularly oral thrush that won’t go away. It can indicate that someone’s HIV infection on has progressed towards HIV disease or AIDS. When genital thrush is present, an inflammatory reaction occurs, causing vulnerability to further infection.
If I have genital thrush, should I have an HIV test?
You should have an HIV test if you have genital thrush.
It’s important that everyone know his or her current HIV status. If you have not been screened in the last year or since you changed sexual partner(s), it is a wise thing to do.
People who have recurrent genital thrush would be particularly wise to rule out HIV infection as an underlying reason for its recurrence.
I hope this helps, L.
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