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Can Thrush Cause Incontinence?

About 75% of women will experience thrush in their lifetime. But can this common yeast infection cause incontinence? We investigate.

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Can Thrush Cause Incontinence?
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Vaginal thrush is an extremely common infection in women, caused by the overgrowth of a yeast called candida albicans. 

While this type of yeast naturally lives in the bowel and vagina, it can cause a series of uncomfortable symptoms if the amount of yeast increases. We’ll get more into how this happens as well as the symptoms a little bit later.

One of the lesser-known symptoms of thrush can be urinary incontinence. To find out how it occurs, keep reading!

Thrush Causes

As mentioned thrush is caused by an overgrowth of candida albicans. This overgrowth can be influenced by some other health conditions or changes and medicines. These can include:

  • Existing skin irritation or damage

  • Diabetes

  • Immune system disorders

  • Pregnancy and other hormonal changes such as during menstruation and menopause

  • Antibiotics and medications like steroids

While it’s not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), thrush can also be passed on through vaginal intercourse.

Thrush Symptoms

While they can vary from person to person, thrush symptoms can include the following:

  • Vaginal and/or vulval itching, irritation or swelling

  • Changes to vaginal discharge (generally a thick, white appearance and ‘yeast’ odour)

  • Stinging or burning while urinating or during sex

  • Pain during sex

These symptoms also align with conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs) and genital herpes, so you must see your doctor for a proper diagnosis if any of these symptoms arise. 

Your doctor will likely examine the affected area and take a swab to send for testing. They may also ask you to do a urine test to rule out a UTI.

Incontinence and Thrush

It’s one of the lesser-known causes of incontinence, but thrush can reach the bladder and urinary tract. This can result in a frequent and urgent need to urinate. 

If you already experience urinary incontinence, you may notice your symptoms worsen for the duration of the thrush infection and go back to their usual following treatment.

If you notice you need to urinate more frequently and/or urgently and are worried you may not make it to a toilet in time or have already experienced leaks, try out some quality incontinence aids such as pads, guards (for men), or pull-ups depending on your level of leakage. 

Our Dailee range of products are not only extremely absorbent, they’re slimline too so you don’t need to worry about them looking and feeling bulky under clothes.

Thrush has also been associated with incontinence-associated dermatitis (IAD) [1]. 

IAD is a contact dermatitis that can occur in those experiencing urinary and/or faecal incontinence. Because the skin is compromised with IAD, it may disrupt the normal levels of candida and lead to thrush.

Thrush Treatment

There are several options available to treat thrush. These treatments aim to bring the levels of candida down to a normal range so you no longer experience the thrush symptoms mentioned earlier.

Treatment options include:

  • Internal anti-fungal creams or vaginal suppositories (pessaries)
These are put inside the vagina with an applicator and can be used between one and seven days depending on the product and thrush severity. You can find these products at your local pharmacy. 

 

Keep in mind that these internal creams can damage latex condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps

  • External anti-fungal creams

These creams help relieve discomfort and itchiness on the outside of the vagina. Speak to your doctor about whether you should be using external and internal treatment methods.

As with internal creams, be aware external creams may damage latex condoms.

  • Single-dose anti-fungal medication (Fluconazole)

This has a similar effectiveness to the internal cream treatment for thrush, however, it’s not recommended to be taken during pregnancy, breastfeeding or with certain other medications. Speak to your doctor about whether an oral tablet is the right form of thrush treatment for you.

During any, or all, of the above treatments aim to avoid any fragranced or irritant products on the vaginal area as they can disrupt the healing process. This includes soaps, bubble baths, bath oils, spermicides, vaginal lubricants and vaginal hygiene products.

Symptoms of thrush should resolve within seven to 14 days of starting treatment. 

If you notice your symptoms have not gone away, or you continue to get thrush closely after treatment, you should seek medical advice.

How to Prevent Thrush

While thrush can’t always be prevented, there are some actions you can take to try to prevent it. 

  • Candida thrives in warm, moist environments. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing that isn’t breathable (like jeans) or made with synthetic fibres like polyester or lycra.
  • Change underwear daily and wash them in hot water to destroy bacteria.
  • Avoid taking antibiotics unless completely necessary. If you must, take a good probiotic at the same time and follow treatment to rebuild good gut bacteria.
  • Wash your vulva and vagina with warm water, avoid soaps or other fragranced/synthetic washes as it affects your natural pH.
  • Always wipe from front to back after going to the toilet to avoid the spread of bacteria from the anus to the vagina. 
  • If you have diabetes, try to keep your blood sugar levels under control. 
  • Eating a wholefood diet with minimally processed foods. Eating foods like yoghurt with lactobacilli (‘good’ bacteria) may also help maintain good gut health and healthy bacteria levels.

We hope this article has helped you better understand not only whether thrush can cause incontinence, but also which thrush symptoms to watch for, how it’s treated and what you can do to prevent it!

 

About the Author: Gabriella Del Grande

Having begun her career as a journalist, Gabriella has been weaving words to create engaging and educational content for over a decade. Gabriella loves to write insightful pieces that empower readers to take control of their health and wellbeing so they can live their lives to the fullest. Along with crafting articles, Gabriella has an eye for design, producing and overseeing visual content from short-form Instagram reels and TikToks to long-form brand campaigns and video series.

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