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Dr Raelia was recently invited as a guest expert on the Adore BeautyBeauty IQ’ podcast to talk about Thrush.

Vaginal thrush is a common imbalance of a woman’s natural flora caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans, technically a yeast. Candida naturally is present in the bowel and vagina in low concentration. It’s mostly a  harmless “commensal flora”, but symptoms can develop if its numbers multiply out of control.

Most women at some point in their lives will have vaginal thrush. Other names for thrush are candidiasis or monilia.

Tell-tale symptoms of thrush can include vaginal itch and sensation of burning, a white cottage cheese like discharge with a yeasty smell or stinging/burning while passing urine. Other symptoms can include redness or swelling of the vulva or vagina, splits in the delicate genital skin or painful sex. Vaginal creams or pessaries (vaginal dissolving tablets) are often first line treatments for reducing symptoms of thrush.

Thrush is not considered an STI – it’s a natural flora imbalance. So while technically a penis could be infected with thrush during unprotected sex with a partner, it’s not commonly the case.

Thrush can be triggered by changes in hormones, including a new or change of hormonal contraceptive method like the oral contraceptive pill, progesterone intrauterine device (IUD), or other progesterone contraceptive methods. Some women are more prone to Thrush attacks around their periods and during pregnancy for this reason.

Other triggers include recent antibiotic use where as well as treating an infection, good bacteria can be thrown out of balance. Sometimes, the reason for candida overgrowth can’t be identified.

In men, thrush symptoms can be similar to those of a sexually transmitted infections (STIs), for example burning, itching, irritation under the foreskin or on the tip of the penis, redness of the head of the penis with a tight foreskin or discharge. It’s really important in this scenario to see a doctor and be assessed for other STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis as symptomatic male penile thrush is fairly uncommon.

A weakened immune system, or an illness like diabetes may make both men and women more susceptible to thrush.

What are the most common remedies for treating thrush?

Treatments for thrush aim to reduce the concentration of candida so the good bacteria of the vagina 9dominant lactobacilli) can regain control and so candida excessive growth no longer causes symptoms. First line options are available from a normal pharmacy without a prescription. These include anti-fungal creams and pessaries as well as oral tablets. If thrush is chronic and not getting better, see a doctor.

To prevent thrush, wear clothing that breathes, eat a diet with probiotic support e.g. including foods like natural yogurt, and minimise pubic hair removal at least for a while.

Lovers Real Love lubricant is sensational for women who suffer recurrent thrush, helping to maintain the ideal microbiome as a daily treatment and making sex comfortable. Real love contains thrush repellent ingredients that encourage dominance of vaginal good bacteria, including soothing boric acid coconut oil and natural honey. Real love also moisturises with cocoa butter to help skin heal and be protected.