Thrush (In men & women)

Thrush is a common yeast infection that can affect both men and women.
It is usually harmless, but it can be uncomfortable and keep coming back
Thrush is not classed as a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

How do I know if it is thrush?

Thrush symptoms in women

  • 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 passing urine

Thrush symptoms in men

  • Irritation, burning and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin
  • A white discharge (Like cottage cheese)
  • An unpleasant smell
  • Diffuculty pulling back the foreskin

Thrush in other areas

Thrush can affect other areas of the skin, for example 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 appear as obviously on darker toned skin.
Sometimes thrush causes no symptoms at all

Sexual health clinics and pharmacists can help with thrush

Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine systems.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, meaning you do no need to beek an appointment.
They will often get test results quicker than GP surgeries.

Find a sexual health clinic near you

You can buy antifungal medicine from pharmacies, if you have had thrush diagnosed in the past and you know the symptoms.
The pharmacist can recommend the best treatment for you. You can ask if they have a private area to discuss the matter, if you are embarrassed.
You should not use antifungal medicine more than twice in 6 months without speaking to a pharmacist or a doctor.

Things you can do to ease discomfort or prevent thrush returning


  • Use water and emolient (Like E45 cream) instead of soap to wash the affected area
  • Dry properly after washing
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid sex until thrush has cleared up if sex is uncomfortable


  • Don't use soaps or shower gels
  • Do not use douches or deoderants on your vagina or penis
  • Do not wear tight underwear or tights


If you have sex during treatment, be aware that antifungal creams can damage condoms and diaphrams. 
This means your contraception might not work.


What causes thrush?

Although not classed as a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), thrush can be triggered by sex.

Thrush is caused by a fungus caused Candida that is normally harmless.

Thus tends to grow in warm, moist conditions and develops if the balancs 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, becsue of HIV or Chemotherapy)
  • You're having hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • You are pregnant