Common conditions: Thrush in pregnancy

Professor Ellis Downes, Consultant Gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital, talks about the condition in more detail and answers the most commonly asked questions about thrush in pregnancy.

There are some conditions which women are more prone to getting during pregnancy, and one of these is thrush. But why is it common during pregnancy and are the symptoms and treatment the same for pregnant women?

What causes thrush?

Thrush is a vaginal yeast infection which is mainly caused by the Candida fungus and effects 3 out of 4 women at least once during their lifetime. Typically, it can be triggered as a result of being on antibiotics, or wearing tight underwear or clothing

In pregnancy, the rapid changes taking place in the body can cause hormonal imbalances, and especially the high level of oestrogen, can increase the likelihood of developing vaginal thrush.

What are the symptoms of thrush?

  • White vaginal discharge which does not usually smell
  • Itching and irritation around the vagina
  • Soreness and stinging during sex or when urinating

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When is thrush most common during pregnancy, and can it harm an unborn baby?

Thrush is most likely to occur during the third trimester, as this is when the changes to a woman’s body really accelerates. 

If you develop thrush during pregnancy, you shouldn’t worry, as it’s not known to harm your unborn baby. If you have thrush when your baby is born, the baby may catch thrush during the delivery. However, this is nothing to worry about and can be easily treated.

How do you treat thrush when pregnant?

If you’re pregnant and you think you could have thrush, you should see your GP or midwife before using any over-the-counter treatment. Thrush during pregnancy can be treated with cream or a tablet inserted in the vagina. 

If you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use certain anti-fungal tablets to treat thrush. 

Your GP, consultant or midwife will be able to provide you with the best advice. 


How to avoid thrush when pregnant

  • Wear breathable cotton underwear that isn’t too tight
  • Try to avoid products with harsh chemicals in to wash with
  • Change underwear daily and ensure you wash underwear in hot water
  • Wipe from front to back to stop the bacteria from spreading


If you have any concerns about thrush during pregnancy and would like to speak to a consultant obstetrician, click here.