Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that causes itching and swelling in the vaginal area, which may sometimes result in a white and creamy discharge. When you are pregnant, the various hormonal changes result in your vagina being rich in a sugar called glycogen which makes it easier for the thrush to thrive. The higher levels of glycogen are due to increased estrogen levels.
According to Dr Matthew Brennecks, MS, ND and certified naturopathic doctor at the Rocky Mountain Wellness Clinic in Fort Collins, “Most of the time, yeast infections are caused by candida albicans. Usually, beneficial bacteria in the vagina and hormones will keep candida at bay, but when the natural balance is upset, due to an antibiotic or corticosteroid use, high estrogen levels during pregnancy, diabetes, or obesity, it can cause an infection.”
This is why pregnant women are much more likely to get vaginal thrush. Your doctor will do a physical examination to check if it is actually thrush, or may ask for a vaginal swab test to confirm it.
You know you have vaginal thrush if:
- You experience itching, swelling or soreness in your vagina and vulva.
- Your vaginal discharge is whiter and thicker and has a yeast-like smell. It can be odorless as well.
- You have pain when you have sex.
- There is pain or a burning sensation when you urinate.
Can It Affect Your Unborn Baby?
According to Amesh A Adalja, MD and certified infectious disease physician at the University of Pittsburgh, “Vaginal thrush does not pose a threat to pregnancy and has not been definitively associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. It can be easily treated with simple anti-fungal medications and creams.”
While it will not harm your unborn baby, if not treated on time, there are chances that it could infect your baby at the time of birth while it passes through your vagina. If your baby gets infected, he would have a whitish film on his tongue. The doctor will look for these symptoms at the time of birth to check if any treatment is required. If you’re breastfeeding, both you and your baby will need treatment, as thrush can spread to your breasts, too.
The treatment depends on how far you are in your pregnancy and how severe your symptoms are.
- If you are in your first trimester, your doctor may ask you to wait and watch if the symptoms subside on their own.
- He might prescribe anti-fungal creams that are safe to be used during pregnancy, or pessaries that need to be inserted inside your vagina, often with the help of an applicator. Make sure you do not exert too much pressure. Do it at night as it will absorb better while you are lying down.
- Normally, it can also be treated with antifungal tablets called fluconazole. However, if you are pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding, you should not take anti-thrush tablets.
Tips To Prevent It
While you are getting treatment, there are certain tips that you can follow at home as well.
- Use a mild cleaner to clean your vaginal area.
- Check with your doctor about a good emollient that you can use.
- Do not use deodorants around your underwear area and avoid bubble baths. Avoid douching.
- Wear cotton underwear. Always wash it in hot water and pure soap to remove any irritants. Avoid wearing tights or stockings.
- Always wipe from the front to back as this stops bowel organisms being swept into the vagina.
- Don’t use perfumed toilet paper because it can cause irritation.
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