Thrush is caused by a change in the pH balance of the vagina (the balance that regulates acidity and alkalinity), which allows the candida yeast to multiply. This balance is linked to hormonal changes, and so women who are undegoing hormonal changes (those who are pregnant or who are at the beginning of their menstrual cycle) are particularly susceptible to thrush. Other factors may also affect whether you're prone to thrush: diabetes; having recently taken antibiotics, birth control pills or steroids; or having a weakened immune system.
But I can't help these things, so how can I prevent thrush?
There are some things that you can change that can help to prevent thrush. Certain conditions, such as damp and warmth, encourage the proliferation of candida. Try to follow these tips:
- Avoid tight-fitting and synthetic clothing where possible
- Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet
- Wear cotton underwear
- Change out of damp clothes and swimwear immediately
- Dry the outside vaginal area thoroughly after a shower, bath or swim
- Use non-soap cleansers
- Don't douche
- Refrain from sexual activity until any thrush has cleared up. This helps to avoid reinfection.
- Make sure your partner receives treatment for thrush at the same time as you, or again you may run the risk of reinfection.
And when I get thrush, what's the quickest way to clear it up?
Many women find that the easiest and most convenient way to treat thrush is by means of a pessary, an ovule-shaped form of medication that is inserted into the vagina using an applicator and, usually, left overnight. This corrects the imbalance of yeast that caused the infection in the first place. While this pessary takes hold it is a good idea to also apply some topical thrush cream to the vulval area: this will reduce the inflammation and itch and will make you feel much more comfortable, allowing you to get on with your day.