Vaginal infection may make sex uncomfortable because it causes irritation and inflammation on the vaginal tissue. Itching down there could be the work of fungus.
Many conditions produce itching around the vulval area: vaginal infection (usually fungal), cystitis, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and irritation from toiletries or synthetic underwear.
Vaginal fungal infections, commonly called thrush, are usually set off by a yeast-like fungus, Candida Albicans. More resistant cases of thrush may be caused by rarer types of Candida. It is normal for Candida to live in the vagina, but it can overgrow under certain circumstances, resulting in vaginal thrush symptoms.
These symptoms include vulval soreness, itching, and a burning sensation, especially during or after sex or while passing urine. You may also have a thick white discharge like cottage cheese.
What triggers it?
Common triggers of vaginal thrush are;
- Antibiotics or corticosteroids
- Premenstrual changes in the acidity or alkalinity of the vagina.
- Hot weather
- Tight-fitting synthetic clothes
- Vaginal deodorants, bath salts, as well as some soaps.
- Intercourse, especially if the vagina is dry.
What is the treatment?
Occasional episodes of vaginal thrush may be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medicines inserted into the vagina with an applicator, sometimes accompanied by a medicated cream that you apply to the vulva. Your doctor may advise that your partner also apply the medicated cream to the head of the penis.
Antifungal tablets that you take by mouth are often recommended when creams and pessaries (vaginal suppositories) don’t work.
Some thrush treatments have to be taken for several days, while others come in only one dose. Check with your doctor or pharmacist for the type suitable for your symptoms.
How do you prevent it?
You can stop the symptoms of thrush and prevent the condition from recurring.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting synthetic underwear or tights.
- Don’t use vaginal deodorants, douches, bath salts or bath foam.
- Use a water-based lubricant during intercourse, when inserting tampons, or if your vagina is dry.
- Use a product that helps restore the vagina’s acid and alkaline balance, which can change during the monthly cycle.
Some people say applying yogurt with Lactobacillus acidophilus to the area is soothing. However, there is no medical evidence yet that doing it – or consuming this type of yogurt is an effective treatment for vaginal thrush.
When do you see a doctor?
Some situations demand that you seek medical expertise on thrush. There may be an underlying cause that you are not aware of.
- This is your first time to experience some thrush symptoms.
- You have had more than three thrush infections in a year.
- This is your second thrush infection in just two months.
- The symptoms last long despite treatment.
- The symptoms are different from those you normally get with thrush.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- You have a lump in the area.
- You have bleeding or ulcers.
- You have abdominal, back or shoulder pain.
- You are under 12 or over 60 years old.
- You are taking diabetes medicines or other medicines that may suppress your immune system.