08 June 2012

Many women embarrassed by thrush

A recent study by Bayer of attitudes and perceptions towards thrush found that women viewed it as a serious condition but also an embarrassing one.


Seventy five percent of women will suffer from vaginal thrush at some point.  Forty to 50% will suffer more than once. A recent study by Bayer of attitudes and perceptions towards thrush found that women viewed it as a serious condition but also an embarrassing one.

The study of women aged 21 – 45 year old, currently living in Gauteng found:

  • 86% of the women surveyed viewed this as a serious condition
  • 56% of the respondents said it was a very embarrassing condition
  • Only 5% of them spoke to someone about it the first time they experienced symptoms of thrush
  • All mentioned one or more negative feelings associated with vaginal thrush:
  • “I feel violated because I don’t deserve to have to suffer from this.  I am doing everything right”
  • Irritated/miserable
  • Moody/angry aggravated
  • Frustrated
  • Adds to the stress
  • All were able to explain the symptoms of vaginal thrush, even though they might not be aware of what it is.
  • Part of the embarrassment stemmed from having to explain these symptoms
  • Can’t talk about it
  • Have to explain to pharmacist
  • One in four women applied home remedies, when they first suffered from the condition. Washing, cleaning & disinfecting being the most common approaches
  • Wash/shower frequently (2x per day)
  • Dettol/Savlon/salt water bath
  • Steam with hot water
  • Wash with bi carb
  • Stop bathing and shower instead
  • Intimate wash
  • Feminine wipes
  • One in four go straight to a doctor

 Helping women understand & treat vaginal thrush

The symptoms of thrush are quite clearly defined – vulval and vaginal itching and irritation, thick white discharge may be present, redness and swelling of the vaginal walls1,2.

Many cases of vaginal thrush do not have a clearly identifiable cause2. What we do know is that women may get vaginal thrush when the pH balance in the vagina is disturbed2.  Certain factors may contribute to this such as hormonal changes i.e. pregnancy, menopause or before menstruation; medicines such as antibiotics; stress; using perfumed soaps or shower gels; wearing tight clothing.1,2

Many treatments for vaginal thrush are readily available. These include topical (i.e. creams and pessaries (vaginal tablets)) antifungal preparations to treat thrush1,2. \

Women need to know the symptoms of thrush and recognise them so that they can obtain the appropriate treatment.

References: 1. Sobel JD. Vulvovaginal candidosis  Lancet 2007; 369: 1961-1971. 2. Souter J. Vaginal Thrush   SA Pharmacists’s Assistant Nov/Dec 2006; 12-14

(Press release, June 2012)

Read more:
All about thrush




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