It can make your heart sink when you feel that burning sensation as you pee or experience itchiness down there – tell-tale signs of cystitis or thrush.
That’s because for women, thrush and cystitis are two of those irritating infections that are not only painful but can also be a real hassle. They often hit suddenly and without warning, and particularly bad cases have the potential to wreck your plans for the next few days.
Thankfully, often they can both be treated at home and with a bit of rest and relaxation, you could be worry-free in no time.
Thrush or cystitis – what’s the difference?
The two conditions are common female health complaints. Put simply, thrush is a fungal infection of the vagina and surrounding area, while cystitis is inflammation of the bladder.
Both conditions can cause a burning pain when you pee, but other symptoms of thrush include itching and soreness around the entrance of the vagina, vaginal discharge which is odourless, thick and white or thin and watery. You may also experience pain during sex.
Cystitis is most often recognised by pain, stinging or burning when urinating, a need to pee more frequently and more urgently. It’s possible that you may also have dark, cloudy or strong-smelling wee or a pain low down in your tummy. If left untreated, more severe cases of cystitis can cause a kidney infection.
What causes them?
A healthy vagina has a complex balance of bacteria. Thrush is caused when the yeast in the vagina called candida multiplies, impacting the vagina’s healthy state.
Women in their 20s and 30s are more susceptible to thrush, while women who are pregnant may also be more likely to develop it. Watch out for it if you’re on a course of antibiotics too, as this treatment may take away the friendly bacteria in the vagina.
Cystitis is caused when bacteria from the bowel or on the skin get into the bladder via the tube that carries your urine called the urethra.
You can easily reduce your chances of getting cystitis and thrush by staying well hydrated, avoiding perfumed toiletries down there, and maintaining good female health hygiene.
Bringing relief to thrush
Thrush treatments are readily available at local pharmacies to provide relief from the itching and treat the yeast infection. They can come in different forms: a pessary is a pill you insert into your vagina using a special applicator, while there are also creams available* that can be inserted using an applicator.
Oral capsules are also available, but they should be avoided if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
It is important to note that these treatments can damage latex condoms and diaphragms, so you may want to avoid having sex or use another form of contraception while using these treatments.
If your symptoms persist after seven to 14 days of treatment, or you experience unusual symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, it’s important to visit your GP.
Soothing the sting of cystitis
Some women swear by the healing properties of cranberry juice for cystitis, but many studies have questioned whether there’s any truth to this remedy.
For many women, drinking lots of water can help with the infection. It may be possible to reduce the acidity of the urine and therefore the stinging sensation by mixing a sachet of sodium citrate** to water and drinking it over a course of a few days. It’s also recommended that you avoid having sex.
In some cases of cystitis you may want to see your GP, who can prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection.
If your cystitis keeps coming back, you have severe symptoms, such as blood in your urine, a fever or a pain in your side, you should book an appointment with your GP. You should also see your doctor if you’re a man with cystitis, your child has it or you are a pregnant woman with the infection.
This blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding you or your family’s health.
*Care Clotrimazole 1% Cream BP. Contains Clotrimazole. Topical cream for the treatment of fungal (and other microbial) infections, such as thrush. Always read the label.
**Care Cystitis Relief Sachets. Contain Sodium Citrate. Relief from the symptoms of cystitis in women. Always read the label.