What is the different between Thrush and Bacterial Vaginosis?

Although it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing talk about what goes on ‘down there’, it’s important to seek medical advice as many vaginal conditions can become much bigger problems if they are not treated.


Thrush (or candida) is an infection of the vagina that makes your genitals very itchy and sore. It is very common and most women have it at least once in their lives. It is not a sign of bad hygiene.

Symptoms can include:

  • an itchy and sore vulva
  • a thick, white discharge that can look a bit like cottage cheese
  • a dry and sore vagina during sex
  • a burning feeling when you pass urine.

Symptoms can get worse just before your period. Tight clothing can also make symptoms worse as they trap moisture, creating the perfect environment for the infection.

What causes thrush?

Your vagina naturally has a certain amount of yeast. Thrush is caused by the growth of too much yeast.You are more likely to get thrush if you have recently taken antibiotics, you have diabetes or your immune system is weakened.

How is thrush diagnosed?

Your doctor will take a sample from your vagina using a cotton swab and send this away to be tested in a laboratory.

How is thrush treated?

The most common treatment is to put anti-thrush cream or a tablet in your vagina. You can purchase these from the pharmacy without a prescription from your doctor.



You should see your doctor before taking this medication if you’re not sure what is causing the irritation or if the itchiness and pain doesn’t go away or comes back again after treatment. Although thrush is common, it is not the only thing that can cause itchiness or pain, and accidentally using anti-thrush medication when you have another condition can sometimes make that condition worse.

What if I keep getting thrush?

If you have thrush four times in one year, you may have chronic thrush. This is not as common as regular thrush and requires a different treatment. Your doctor will usually recommend taking an anti-thrush tablet for up to six months. They may also recommend that you change your diet and avoid stress and the contraceptive pill if they think these may be affecting your thrush.

Can I have sex if I have thrush?

Thrush is not sexually transmitted, so you do not need to avoid sex, though sex may be uncomfortable while you are infected.There is no need to routinely screen or treat sexual partners.


Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a condition where your vagina makes a greyish discharge that can smell fishy.

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

A range of bacteria normally live in your vagina. BV is caused by an imbalance of the vagina's normal bacteria.
BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but it is more likely in women who:

  • are sexually active
  • have sex with other women
  • have a new sexual partner
  • have sex without a condom.

It is also more likely to occur if you clean inside your vagina or douche.

How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?

Your doctor will take a sample from your vagina using a cotton swab and send this away to be tested in a laboratory.

How is bacterial vaginosis treated?

Antibiotics can help with the smell and discharge. These usually come as a tablet but can come as a cream (or suppository) that you put inside your vagina. Most women only need to take antibiotics for a week, but if you continue to have symptoms, you may need to take them for between four and six months.Your sexual partners do not need to be checked or treated for BV.



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