Is Thrush an STI?

Thrush is something that confuses many people – especially men, as women are more likely to get it. Many don’t even know – can men contract Thrush? Can people pass Thrush to another person? Is this an STI (sexually transmitted infection), or something else?

The simple answer to the last question is ‘no’. Sexually transmitted infections are infections that one person can transmit to another one by having sexual contact or sexual intercourse. This is the main way STIs are acquired. In the case of Thrush, this isn’t what’s happening. Thrush occurs when the yeast, which exists normally in our bodies, multiplies outside of its normal levels. This yeast thrives in moist and warm areas – genitals and mouth are a perfect location for it! While this yeast is beneficial for us, sometimes it grows more rapidly than usual, so the human body can no longer control it. This is the cause behind the Thrush infection.

Many things can cause Thrush, and this includes sex. If you have sexual intercourse with a person suffering from Thrush, this may trigger the yeast overgrowth in your own body. Because of this many people mistakenly believe that Thrush is an STI. Still, there is one big difference: Intercourse is just a trigger, and not a way the infection is transmitted. People don’t pass this yeast to their partner because we all have it in ourselves. Sex is simply what causes it to multiply rapidly, creating an imbalance.

Thrush Symptoms

Thrush is fairly common in women. Those who get it will have signs including a thick, white vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese. Most of the time, this discharge won’t have any smell. Itching and discomfort around the vaginal area is also common, as well as a stinging or painful feeling during urination or sexual intercourse.

When it comes to men, it is possible for them to get Thrush, too, but this is rare. The reason why Thrush isn’t common in men is that the penis’ head is fairly smaller in size compared to the inside of a vagina. This means that there isn’t as much space for yeast to grow on and multiply. However, if a man does get Thrush, he’ll experience symptoms similar to those in women. This includes a thick discharge that is white in colour, which, in men, will likely be followed by an unpleasant odor, as well as soreness and irritation around the penis’ head. It might also be painful to pull back the foreskin.

Thrush Treatment

While unpleasant, Thrush is harmless and very easy to deal with. Many times, it will disappear on its own if left untreated, but an adequate treatment can help get rid of the infection much faster, which is why most people prefer to treat it.

As mentioned before, yeast causes Thrush. This means it’s treated with an anti-fungal medicine. Most of the time, doctors will prescribe you a tablet called Fluconazole, but sometimes they can give you a cream and, for women, some vaginal suppository.

If the doctor gives you Fluconazole, you’re supposed to take it as a single-dose tablet that will work for one day. Your symptoms should reduce within three days and you should feel entirely healthy in a week. However, if your symptoms persist, return to your doctor to make sure there isn’t something else that’s wrong. 

If you’re prescribed an anti-yeast cream, these medications usually contain Clotrimazole, an active ingredient. This will work in a fairly similar time period as the tablet, and it will clear up most symptoms in up to seven days. While neither type of treatment is considered faster or better than the other, people usually prefer taking the oral capsule because it is taken as a single dose, while a cream or vaginal suppositories need to be taken each day for a certain time. However, convenience is the only reason behind this, and not effectiveness.

Your partner won’t necessarily need treatment for Thrush, unless they are experiencing symptoms, as well. Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection and it doesn’t have to mean that your partner will get it.

If you have severe symptoms, you can use tablets or creams that will help you get relief from pain, soreness, and itching. However, you shouldn’t use antibiotics to treat Thrush. As antibiotics treat bacterial infections, not ones caused by fungus, they won’t help you in any way. On the contrary, they might even trigger yeast growth, making the Thrush worse and worsening your symptoms.