Thrush in men and women

What is thrush?

Thrush is a yeast infection that affects men, women and babies. It’s often harmless, but at times can be uncomfortable and may keep coming back. It can present itself in the genital area or in the mouth as oral thrush.

Oral thrush is common in babies and older people with dentures.

What are the symptoms of thrush?

Thrush symptoms in men

· Burning, irritation and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin

· A white discharge (looks like cottage cheese)

· Difficulty when pulling back the foreskin

· An unpleasant smell

Thrush symptoms in women

· Itching and irritation around the vagina

· White vaginal discharge (looks like cottage cheese) that does not usually smell

· Stinging and soreness during sex or whilst urinating

Oral thrush symptoms

  • cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • not being able to taste properly
  • a bad taste in the mouth
  • pain inside the mouth (sore gums or a sore tongue for example)
  • difficulty drinking and eating.

Oral thrush symptoms in babies

  • they do not want to eat 
  • nappy rash

Babies can sometimes spread oral thrush to a mother’s nipple through breastfeeding.

Thrush can cause painful, red and itchy rashes that scales over with yellow or white discharge. The rash usually isn’t as obvious on darker skin.

Thrush can also affect other areas of the skin, including your groin, between your fingers and even the armpits.

Treatment for thrush

  • To get rid of thrush, you will often need antifungal medicine. This can be a tablet you take orally, a tablet you insert into your vagina (pessary) or a cream to soothe symptoms.
  • After one dose of medicine or after using the cream daily, your thrush should clear up within a week.
  • Oral thrush is usually treated with a mouth gel, treatment usually lasts about a week using this gel.

It is also worth noting that If you leave oral thrush untreated, the infection may spread to other parts of the body.

Recurring thrush

You might need to take treatment for longer if you get thrush more than twice within six months. Your GP can help identify if something is causing your thrush such as sexual activity or your period. They’ll let you know how often you should use treatment.

If you know you definitely have thrush, can recognize the symptoms and have had it diagnosed in the past, you can buy antifungal medicine from a pharmacy.

Can thrush be prevented?

Things you can do yourself to ease discomfort and prevent thrush from returning


  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Use emollient and water instead of soap to wash your vagina or penis.
  • Dry the affected area properly after washing
  • Avoid sex until you know the thrush has cleared up


  • Do not use shower gels or soaps
  • Don’t wear tight underwear or tights
  • Avoid using deodorants or douches on your penis or vagina

What are the causes of thrush?

Although it isn’t classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), thrush can be triggered by sex and can occur after sexual contact. Sexual activity can worsen thrush symptoms. It tends to grow in moist, warm areas and can develop if there is a disruption in the balance of bacteria.

You’re more like to get thrush if:

  • You are pregnant
  • You are taking oral contraceptives
  • You are on medication such as antibiotics (these kill of healthy bacteria as well as disease-causing bacteria)
  • You have diabetes that isn’t diagnosed or it is poorly managed.
  • You have damaged or irritated skin.
  • You have a weakened immune system (for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV)
  • You have gone through the menopause

If you’re struggling with symptoms of thrush, we recommend perhaps booking a consultation with one of our specialists in this area.

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