If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you are suffering from thrush currently, have suffered recently, or you’re ‘asking for a friend’. Either way, you are probably in need of distraction because thrush is truly uncomfortable.
So, to give you something else to keep your mind off it, I have littered this article with some puns on the word ‘thrush’. The first five people who email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the correct number of puns will receive a free tube of canesten thrush cream. Happy hunting. But don’t thrush through as you read, or you’ll miss them!
Humans have yeast and bacteria all throughout their body, and this is actually a good and normal thing. It only becomes a problem when you have too much of the wrong kind in the wrong place. Enter a yeast called Candida. Generally, it is harmless.
But when there is too much of it in the wrong place, it creates a truly irritating (and very common) condition called thrush. The University of Manchester is a leading centre of research for fungal infections, and according to studies, 3 out of 4 women will develop thrush at some point in their lives. 6% of women will also suffer from recurring episodes throughout their life.
Sadly, there is a real taboo associated with vaginal health, and many women feel ashamed about seeking help. “Recurrent vulvovaginal thrush is common, debilitating and complex. Myths, unnecessary worry and stigma are associated with it as medical professionals struggle to understand it,” says Dr Rautemaa-Richardson, of the University of Manchester.
“Thrush is often thought of as an embarrassing problem women should accept, rather than a medical problem which needs to be dealt with. But for millions of women, it can have a massive impact on quality of life.”
Even though all humans have candida in their systems naturally, the two sexes are not equally tarred by the same paint-thrush, as it affects women much more regularly than men.
Some of the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection for women include:
- A vaginal discharge, usually yellow or white. For some women, it can have a certain yeasty odour
- A stinging sensation whilst urinating
- Sex becomes uncomfortable or even painful
- Genitals can become itchy or swollen
Men can also develop thrush, and symptoms can include:
- Red spots around the groin
- Rash on the penis, scrotum and groin
- Uncircumcised men can develop candida under the foreskin without experiencing symptoms, which reinforced (if this wasn’t already important) the necessity for good bathing.
I suspect that men who develop thrush are often far less likely to recognise it as a yeast infection, believing it instead to be rash from physical activity or sweat from underwear. If they do recognise a problem, they are also far more likely to shrug it off and quietly hope that it goes away. Gentleman, there is nothing brave about burying your head in the sand.
There are ways to avoid thrush if you are proactive. Candida thrives in moist dark places, and so keeping these areas clean will dramatically decrease your chances of developing a yeast infection. Take extra special care to wash under the breasts, in the groin near the vagina or scrotum, and under folds of skin.
Similarly, this can be exacerbated by wearing tight underwear and bras, or clothing that sits tight against your body holding in sweat (activewear, anyone?) as you are thrushing around at work, or perhaps sitting in thrush hour traffic.
Other illnesses like HIV, cancer and diabetes will affect the levels of bacteria in your body which can sometimes leave you at a higher risk.
So, what can be done? Well, actually, quite a bit. Anyone who has ever had thrush will know that it is the pits, and the sooner it dies in a fire, the better! The first port of call will always be Canesten thrush cream. Left untreated, it can go on for weeks.
With Canesten, the symptoms will usually be gone within the week, and it is highly effective for both men and women. Given that it isn’t just topical for women, you can always try pessaries, dissolving tablets that are inserted into the vagina which work regardless of the menstrual cycle.
If symptoms persist, you should always seek the advice of a medical professional. It is also important to consider that thrush can sometimes affect young children. If they are left for too long in soggy nappies, they too can develop a yeast infection.
I always recommend my customers seek advice from a pediatrician in this instance. The health and wellbeing of your child is best left to trained professionals.
I often have patients sidling into the pharmacy, asking in thrushed tones whether or not it is a sexually transmitted infection. On this front, I have good news! No, it is not. It can be transmitted by sex, but it not classified as an STI because the Candida bacteria is already present for the other person, and is not acquired anew from the partner.
Other STIs are entirely foreign entities when spread to new territory during sex. Thrush is no more a sexually transmitted disease than a runny nose. Don’t hear this as a technicality. There are enough things in life to feel concerned about without inventing things unnecessarily.
However, if it is a source of embarrassment for you, you should rest assured that there are many options for treatment that could save you an uncomfortable conversation.
There you have it. I hope this has removed some of the stigma associated with thrush, leaving you to make more informed choices. Also, did you spot all the puns? Make sure you send me an email at email@example.com with the number!
Yours in puns,
Edit: Well done to the five people who contacted me. There were five excellent puns, and your canesten cream is in the mail. Sadly three of the five told me that the puns were awful. I’m afraid that there is no medicine in the world to fix the person who does not find joy in a good play on words. Or even a really bad one…