The symptoms of vaginal thrush are usually obvious, but some people may not be aware they have thrush.
Typical symptoms include:
- itching and soreness around the entrance of the vagina
- pain during sex
- a stinging sensation when you urinate
- vaginal discharge, although this isn't always present; the discharge is usually odourless and it can be thin and watery, or thick and white like cottage cheese
As well as the above symptoms, you may also have:
- a red and swollen vagina and vulva
- cracked skin around the entrance of your vagina
- sores in the surrounding area – this is rare, but it may indicate the presence of another condition, such as the herpes simplex virus (which causes genital herpes)
Complicated or uncomplicated thrush
Doctors sometimes refer to "uncomplicated" or "complicated" thrush depending on your symptoms, whether you have any other medical conditions and how often you get the yeast infection.
Uncomplicated thrush is mild thrush that you've had either for the first time or not very often. Complicated thrush refers to severe thrush that keeps coming back (when you've had four or more episodes in a year). In rare cases, complicated thrush also includes chronic infection with other yeasts. The most common example is called Candida glabrata.
When to visit your GP
Always visit your GP if:
- this is the first time you've had thrush
- you're under the age of 16 or over 60
- you're pregnant or may be pregnant
- you're breastfeeding
- you have abnormal menstrual bleeding or blood-stained discharge
- you have lower abdominal pain
- your symptoms are different from previous bouts of thrush – for example, if the discharge is a different colour or has a bad smell
- you have vulval or vaginal sores
- you've had two cases of thrush within the last six months
- you or your partner have previously had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and believe it has returned
- you've reacted badly to an antifungal treatment in the past, or it didn't work
- your symptoms don't improve after 7-14 days
Read about how thrush is diagnosed.