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During pregnancy, women can get thrush because of the changes going on in the body, especially during the third trimester. But there's no evidence that thrush can harm an unborn baby.

What is thrush?

Thrush is a yeast infection caused by the Candida species of fungus, usually Candida albicans. It lives in the vagina of some people without causing any harm or symptoms, because its growth is kept under control by normal bacteria.

But if the balance of bacteria changes – for example, because you're pregnant, taking antibiotics or the combined contraceptive pill – the fungus can grow and cause:

  • white discharge (like cottage cheese), which does not usually smell
  • itching and irritation around the vagina and vulva 
  • soreness and stinging during sex or when you pee
  • redness, but redness can be harder to see on brown and black skin

Treating thrush during pregnancy

If you're pregnant, you should see a GP or midwife before using treatments for thrush.

Thrush during pregnancy can be treated with cream or a tablet inserted in the vagina (a pessary) that contains clotrimazole or a similar antifungal medicine.

Normally, thrush can also be treated with antifungal tablets called fluconazole. But, if you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take anti-thrush tablets.

If you have thrush when your baby is born, the baby may catch it during the delivery. This is nothing to worry about and can easily be treated.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 17 April 2024
Next review due: 17 April 2027