The main complications of thrush are:
- the treatment doesn’t work
- the thrush keeps coming back
- depression and sexual problems
- penis problems in male partners
Anti-thrush medication fails to work in up to one in five cases. If your symptoms don’t clear up within 7-14 days, the treatment hasn’t worked.
There are several reasons why this happens. You may have a different infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, which is the most common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge.
When thrush keeps coming back
If you have yeast infections that keep returning, your doctor may run more tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions. They may suggest trying a longer course of anti-thrush treatment or they may give you a prescription you can use whenever the symptoms return.
Research has suggested that a strategy known as “maintenance therapy” is effective. This involves taking an anti-thrush oral treatment or pessaries on a weekly basis for up to six months. Maintenance therapy will stop symptoms of thrush during treatment and allow the underlying causes to settle down.
Depression and sexual problems
Depression and psychosexual problems, often related to anxiety about having sex and the effect on your relationship, can sometimes develop if you have recurrent thrush.
You may wish to discuss with your partner whether tightness and dryness during sex are contributing to recurrent thrush.
You could also try using a water or silicone-based lubricant during sex. These are available from pharmacies without a prescription. (example – KY Jelly)
Occasionally, male partners of women who have thrush can develop a condition called candidal balanitis, where the head of the penis becomes inflamed.
If this happens, antifungal medication will usually be recommended.