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Thrush is a common yeast infection that is caused by a fungus that lives naturally in the body. It can affect both men and women. It’s not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be passed on during sex. It's usually harmless but it can be uncomfortable and keep coming back. 


Thrush is not classed as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can be triggered by sex.

Thrush is caused by a fungus called candida that is normally harmless.

Thrush tends to grow in warm, moist conditions and develops if the balance of bacteria changes.

This can happen if:

  • your skin is irritated or damaged

  • you're taking antibiotics

  • you have poorly controlled diabetes

  • you have a weakened immune system (for example, because of HIV or chemotherapy)

  • you're having hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

  • you're pregnant


Symptoms of thrush for people with a vagina can include:

  • white vaginal discharge (often like cottage cheese), which does not usually smell

  • itching and irritation around the vagina

  • soreness and stinging during sex or when you pee


Symptoms of thrush for people with a penis can include:

    irritation, burning and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin
  • a white discharge (like cottage cheese)

  • an unpleasant smell

  • difficulty pulling back the foreskin


Thrush in other areas:

Thrush can affect other areas of skin, such as the armpits, groin and between the fingers.

This usually causes a red, itchy or painful rash that scales over with white or yellow discharge. The rash may not be so obvious on darker skin.

Sometimes thrush causes no symptoms at all.


When you come to see us, we will talk to you about what symptoms you may be experiencing. It may be a good idea for our nurse to examine the area to confirm if you have thrush. 

We suggest that you should be tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) if you have genital warts through sexual contact.

At TADIC testing is done with a urine test or a swab test. The swab is something you can do yourself. The test is FREE for anyone under the age of 19.


Once tested we will be in touch within 1 - 2 weeks with your results. If your test result is negative you will receive a text. If you are positive, you will be invited into the clinic to arrange your treatment.  

If for any reason, you do not hear from us 2 weeks after visiting the drop centre, then please get in touch with us. 


Although you can buy treatments for thrush at the chemist, it’s always best to get it diagnosed by a health professional first; this is because lots of other infections can have similar symptoms and you may not get the right treatment.


Treatment may include a combination of pills, creams or pessaries. A pessary is a pill that you insert into your vagina and dissolves, usually overnight. Cream is applied to the genital area. In men, treatment usually involves a cream that you apply to the area affected. 

Thrush should clear up within 7 to 14 days of starting treatment.

You do not need to treat partners unless they have symptoms.

Some people can get recurrent thrush, while others seem to only have one episode. If you find that you are getting repeated symptoms it is important to go to seek medical advice for further management.



  • Avoid sex until thrush has cleared up.

  • Take showers instead of baths.

  • Dry the affected area properly.



  • Wearing tight, restrictive or synthetic clothing (e.g. tights and nylon underwear).

  • Washing and wiping the genital area from back to front.

  • Using highly perfumed soap, bubble bath, genital sprays and deodorants, as this can irritate the area.


Before taking any medication you should always inform the doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you think you may be pregnant. If you are pregnant then you should use the cream and pessaries and not the oral tablets. Thrush is not harmful to you or the baby.

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