Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Thrush in pregnancy

Thrush is an inflammation of the vagina and vulva (outer parts of the genitals). It is caused by a type of yeast called Candida.

Pregnancy increases your risk of getting thrush.

Thrush is uncomfortable, but it won't cause any long term harm to you and won't harm your baby.

Symptoms of thrush

Symptoms of thrush include:

  • itching and soreness of your vulva and vagina
  • vaginal discharge - this is usually thick and white
  • pain during sex
  • stinging when you urinate
  • red, cracked and inflamed skin on your vagina and vulva

Diagnosing thrush

Visit your GP if you think you have thrush.

Your GP may need to examine you and may need to do a test to see if you have thrush. During this test, a long cotton bud will be inserted into your vagina to collect a sample of any discharge.

Most doctors will use a “speculum” to make collecting a sample easier. This is a device that is inserted into the vagina to open your cervix.

The sample will be sent to a lab to be tested.

This test doesn't usually hurt, but it's uncomfortable. It won't harm your baby.

Treatment of thrush

Talk to your GP about treatment for thrush. Do not buy treatments over the counter.

If you buy medicine without a prescription from your GP, always tell the pharmacist that you are pregnant.

Your GP may prescribe an anti-fungal cream. These creams are safe to use during pregnancy. Pregnant women with thrush should use the cream for at least 7 days.

Always wash your hands before and after using anti-fungal creams.

Your doctor may also prescribe a “pessary”. Pessaries are tablets that are inserted into your vagina.

Tablets for thrush taken by the mouth are not recommended during pregnancy.

You can prevent thrush and reduce the symptoms by:

  • wearing loose clothes and cotton underwear
  • avoiding perfumed soaps
  • never using douches or deodorants on your vagina
  • washing your genitals using an emollient soap - ask your pharmacist about emollient soaps
  • patting your vagina and vulva dry after washing
  • using condoms during sex to stop the thrush spreading to your partner
  • using non-perfumed panty liners or sanitary pads
  • changing out of damp swimwear or sweaty sports gear as soon as possible

Page last reviewed: 17 May 2019
Next review due: 17 May 2022