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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Vaginal thrush (candida)

Thrush is a common yeast infection caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. It's normal for your vagina to have a small number of Candida that live naturally and cause no problems.

Usually, your own immune system along with harmless bacteria on your skin help control the amount of Candida present. However, sometimes the conditions in your vagina change, allowing the number of Candida to multiply, causing vaginal thrush symptoms.

You can also get thrush in other parts of your body including your mouth, throat and skin.

Vaginal thrush is usually harmless but it can keep coming back (this is called recurrent thrush). It affects most women at some stage in their lives, though it's less common before puberty and after menopause.

You're more likely to get vaginal thrush if you:

Symptoms of vaginal thrush

Vaginal thrush can be uncomfortable. Sometimes there are no symptoms but typical symptoms include:

Self-help for vaginal thrush

Avoid using soap or shower gels to clean your vulva (the area around your vagina), use water and a soap substitute instead. Also:

Treating vaginal thrush

If you think you have vaginal thrush, talk to your pharmacist for advice. Over-the-counter (without a prescription) antifungal medicines such as fluconazole will usually get rid of it.

Fluconazole comes as a tablet. Clotrimazole is another treatment and comes as a vaginal cream.

You can also get these medicines on a prescription from your GP.

If you're pregnant, talk to your midwife, LMC or GP – oral treatments are not recommended for thrush if you're pregnant.

Getting help for vaginal thrush

See your GP if:


If you have sex while you're on treatment for vaginal thrush, some antifungal creams can damage condoms and diaphragms, so your contraception might not work. Ask your GP, nurse or pharmacist for advice on what to use.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2021.

See also:

Vulval & vaginal care

Understanding your vaginal swab results

Vulval problems


Page reference: 67889

Review key: HIVVC-53223