Candidiasis (Thrush)

 

What is this?
This is an infection of the mucous membranes by a yeast-like fungus called Candida Albicans. Candida can be present in the mouth, vagina and large intestine without causing any symptoms. However, hormones in pregnancy alter the environmental conditions in the vagina, making it more susceptible to a symptomatic thrush infection. Some antibiotics can also have this effect.

What are the symptoms?
This varies, but may include one or more of the following:

  • Itching or irritation of the vagina and/ or vulva;
  • Inflammation [redness] of the same areas, sometimes with small white patches;
  • Soreness during sexual intercourse, and occasionally there may be a scantily blood stained discharge on wiping, where friction has made the vaginal mucosa bleed.

What should I do if I think I might have Thrush?
You need to contact your GP, midwife, or local maternity unit. A vaginal swab will be sent to the lab to confirm that it is Thrush, rather than any other sort of infection. This takes about 48 hours to culture. In the meantime you will be given a pessary to clear the symptoms inside the vagina and sometimes a cream to use externally as well.

Is there anything I can do to avoid re-infection?
This can be difficult during pregnancy, as mentioned above. However, wearing loose fitting clothing and cotton underwear may help. Having showers rather than baths, if possible and using only very mild shower gels will help. You should avoid intercourse until your symptoms have completely gone, as this may aggravate the condition. It is also possible for the infection to be passed backwards and forwards between your partner and yourself, so your partner may also need to be treated if symptomatic.

Will it affect my baby?
Having vaginal Thrush during pregnancy does not affect your baby, and nor does the pessary used to treat it. However, if you give birth vaginally while you have an active infection, it is possible that the baby will be colonised by, and sometimes infected by Thrush also. It is far safer to treat the infection prior to the birth if possible.