What is thrush?

What is thrush?

Thrush is a yeast infection that usually affects women, but can occasionally affect men. It is very common and can keep coming back. Thrush is caused by a fungus called Candida which grows in warm, moist parts of the body such as the vagina, under a man’s foreskin and sometimes the mouth.

Thrush is not classed as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), although the irritation it causes can also affect your partner when you have sex. Some of the symptoms (signs) of thrush can be similar to those of other STIs.

What are the symptoms (signs) of thrush?

What are the symptoms (signs) of thrush?

Common symptoms of thrush are redness, itching, and discomfort in the genital area as well as pain or discomfort when having sex or peeing (urinating). Additional symptoms include;


  • Itching and irritation of the vulva (lips) or vagina
  • Thick white discharge – sometimes described as like “cottage cheese”


  • Difficulty in rolling the foreskin back
  • White, creamy substance under the foreskin
Treatment for thrush

Treatment for thrush

Treatment for thrush is through the use anti-fungal medication, which are available over-the-counter in pharmacies. This can take the form of a tablet you swallow, a pessary you insert into your vagina or an anti-fungal cream. Sometimes you will be prescribed a tablet and cream. Thrush should clear up within a week of taking the tablet or using the cream on a daily basis.

You don’t need to treat partners, unless they have symptoms.

Your GP or sexual health clinic can help identify if something is causing your thrush, such as your period or sex. They’ll recommend how often you should use treatment.

What should I do if I think I have thrush?

What should I do if I think I have thrush?

Thrush has very similar symptoms to a lot of sexually transmitted infections, so if you have had unprotected sex, or if this is your first time having thrush then we would recommend that you visit us. You can book an appointment or come to a walk in session.

If you have had thrush before and are certain that it is the cause of your discomfort then you can get medication over the counter at a pharmacy. Alternatively you can visit a Devon Sexual Health clinic to be assessed and discuss treatment.

How can I avoid getting thrush?

How can I avoid getting thrush?

To avoid getting thrush;

  • Don’t use perfumed soap or better still just wash your genital area with water
  • Wear loose fitting cotton underwear
  • Take showers instead of baths
  • Make sure that you dry your genital area properly
  • Don’t have sex until the thrush has cleared up
  • Ensure good blood sugar control if you have diabetes
How can we help you?

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Accessing our service

In response to the emergence of COVID-19 we have implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

We are currently experiencing high demand for our Sexual Health Services across Devon and Torbay with unprecedented demand in Exeter. Please note always review urgent cases the same day. If your need is urgent and you are struggling to reach us keep trying as our phone system will explain how to access same-day care with us.

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception here.

Self-requested STI testing by post is available for those aged under 25- more info

We are now running an under 18’s sit and wait clinic at Exeter, Torquay, and Barnstaple for more information click here

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - from a local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info