Female Intimate Health Learn more about Women's Intimate Conditions

Female Intimate Health - Learn more about Women's Intimate Conditions

The average private health conditions women complain about are:
Bacterial Vaginosis
Vaginal Dryness


Thrush is an infection caused by a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans.  It is a minor ailment, most commonly occurring as vaginal thrush in women in their forties and thirties.

During pregnancy almost one in five women will have vaginal thrush.  Once during their lives, it is estimated that 80% of women will experience vaginal thrush at least


Candida albicans is a common fungus found naturally in the vagina and mouth and throughout the body.  It is normally quite harmless.  A candidal infection happens when the pH, or acid balance, in the body becomes disturbed.  Any change to the acidic environment of the body, especially the vagina, can cause the Candida fungus to multiply.

A common cause of all types of thrush can be taking a course of antibiotics.  The antibiotics kill off other bacteria that are harmless, allowing the Candida fungus to thrive.

Vaginal thrush can be caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy or menstruation, or by taking the contraceptive pill.

Diabetes which is poorly controlled may cause thrush as levels of sugar in the vagina may increase.

Anyone who is tired and run down will be more susceptible to thrush.

Perfumed bubble baths or soaps and synthetic or tight clothing are also thought to make it easier for vaginal thrush to develop.

Because semen is alkaline, having sex can alter the acidity of the vagina.

Poor toilet hygiene can lead to vaginal thrush, as Candida is present in the bowels and can be easily passed to the vagina when using toilet paper.

Vaginal thrush often causes intense itching and soreness around a white discharge and the genital area, which is said to resemble cottage cheese but which does not usually smell.  It may be painful to pass urine or have sexual intercourse.  Some women also feel sudden pain but this is rare.

The aim of treatment is to reduce the level of candidal infection by the use of an antifungal agent.  The usual treatment for vaginal thrush is antifungal pessaries containing the antifungal agents clotrimazole, econazole, miconazole or nystatin which are inserted into the vagina with a special applicator.  These agents are also available in the form of intravaginal creams that may be used instead of a pessary.  Lower strength creams applied to the genital area will also help to soothe the itching outside the vagina.

canesten duo
Oral tablets containing ketoconazole, itraconazole or fluconazole can be used to deal with Candida wherever it is present in the body.  These antifungal agents are very effective, especially when the thrush is persistent.  Many women prefer oral treatments to the use of intravaginal pessaries or intravaginal creams as they find them easier and less messy to use.

canesten thrush
Some people find that eating live yoghurt and avoiding yeast-type foods and drinks during an attack can help.  Complementary medicine can also be useful in dealing with underlying causes of thrush.

Tablets, pastilles or oral suspensions containing some of the same antifungal agents are available for the treatment of oral thrush.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a mild infection of the vagina caused by bacteria.  Normally, there are a lot of "good" bacteria and some "bad" bacteria in the vagina.  The good types help control the growth of the bad types.  In women with bacterial vaginosis, the balance is upset.  There are not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria.

Bacterial vaginosis is usually a mild problem that may go away on its own in a few days.  It can lead to more serious problems.  It's a good idea to see your doctor and get treatment.

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

Experts are not sure what causes the bacteria in the vagina to get out of balance.  Certain things make it more likely to happen.  Your risk of getting bacterial vaginosis is higher if you:

Have more than one sex partner or have a new sex partner.
If you limit your number of sex partners and don't smoke or douche, you may be able to avoid bacterial vaginosis.

Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who are sexually active.  It can occur if you are not sexually active.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom is a smelly vaginal discharge.  It may look grayish white or yellow.  A sign of bacterial vaginosis can be a "fishy" smell, which may be worse after sex.  About half of women who have bacterial vaginosis do not notice any symptoms.

Many things can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, including some sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  See your doctor so you can be tested and get the right treatment.

How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose bacterial vaginosis by asking about the symptoms, doing a pelvic exam, and taking a sample of the vaginal discharge.  If you have bacterial vaginosis, the sample can be tested to find out.

What problems can bacterial vaginosis cause?

Bacterial vaginosis usually does not cause other health problems.  In some cases it can lead to serious problems.

If you have it when you are pregnant, it increases the risk of miscarriage, early (preterm) delivery, and uterine infection after pregnancy.
If you have it when you have a pelvic procedure such as a cesarean section, an abortion, or a hysterectomy, you are more likely to get a pelvic infection.
You are more likely to catch the infection if you have it and you are exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (including HIV).

How is it treated?

Doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic to treat bacterial vaginosis.  They come as pills you swallow or as a cream or capsules (called ovules) that you put in your vagina.  You will need to take pills if you are pregnant.

Over the counter Treatment




balance active BV treatment


When urinating, Cystitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bladder that causes a frequent need to urinate and a burning sensation.  It can affect women and men, but occurs more commonly in women.  Nearly half of all women will have an attack of cystitis at sometime during their life.  Some women will have just one attack, others will have frequent attacks.  Cystitis occurs most often during pregnancy, after the menopause and in women who are sexually active.
There are two types of cystitis - non-bacterial and bacterial.

Most attacks of cystitis are caused when bacteria from the bowel enter the bladder through its opening, the urethra.  Because the opening from the bowel and bladder are so close together in women it is very easy for bacteria to pass from one to the other, often due to poor toilet hygiene.  This is why cystitis is more common in women than men.  Bacterial infection may also occur as a result of not being able to empty the bladder completely (as can occur during pregnancy), from inserting tampons or contraceptive diaphragms, or from injury during sexual intercourse.  During the menopause, a decrease in the level of oestrogen thins the tissues of the urethra making it more prone to attack by bacteria.

Non-bacterial cystitis is the result of the bladder being irritated by perfumed soaps, bath additives or vaginal deodorants.

Cystitis is less common but potentially more serious in men.  It may be due to an enlarged prostate, an infection of the prostate, a sexually transmitted infection, or a deformity that prevents the bladder from emptying completely that allows bacteria to grow within the bladder.

In men or women, left untreated, cystitis may cause kidney damage.
The most common symptoms of cystitis include an urge to pass urine more frequently, the sensation of not being able to 'hold on', a sharp, stinging or burning sensation when passing urine and a feeling of not emptying the bladder completely.  Urine may be darker than normal, foul and cloudy smelling.  Attacks of cystitis are often accompanied by lower back pain and pain above the pubic bone.

Over-the-counter remedies containing potassium citrate, sodium citrate or sodium bicarbonate work by alkalising the urine which neutralises the painful acid produced by the bacteria, and creates an environment that makes it harder for the bacteria to multiply and grow.  There are antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin available on prescription from your doctor if these products do not work.
Canesten Oasis
canesten oasis

Lubricating gels, for example Aquagel or K-Y Jelly, may help avoid bruising during intercourse, thereby reducing the risk of cystitis.
When to consult your pharmacist
If you think that you may have cystitis, visit your pharmacist.  The pharmacist will talk in confidence to you about your symptoms.  If your pharmacist thinks that you do have cystitis there are a number of OTC medicines that can be supplied without a prescription that will help treat the problem and ease the pain.  You will be advised to see your doctor if your pharmacist thinks that what you describe are symptoms of a more serious condition

Always tell your pharmacist if you have heart or kidney problems or high blood pressure and if you are taking any medicines to treat these conditions.  Some of the OTC preparations contain potassium and may interact with medicines such as ACE inhibitors or A2 blockers (angiotensin 2 antagonists) used to treat these conditions.  Some OTC cystitis remedies contain high levels of sodium which should be avoided by people with high blood pressure.
When to see your doctor.
You should see your doctor if you are a woman having more than three bouts of cystitis in a year.  You should also see your doctor if there is blood in your urine, if you have a heavy vaginal discharge, or if you are pregnant or have a high temperature.  Any pain in the lower back, groin or abdomen should also be reported to your doctor.  You should also visit your doctor if you have kidney or heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.  Men and children with cystitis should always see a doctor.

Your doctor will be able to diagnose whether it is cystitis or some other condition responsible for your symptoms.  Your doctor may take a urine sample to test for bacteria and may then prescribe an antibiotic if you have tried OTC medicines and they have not worked.

Living with cystitis
A few simple precautions can reduce the risk of getting cystitis.  When urinating, women should sit well back on the toilet seat.  This helps the bladder empty.  When drying or wiping your bottom, dry from front to back as this reduces the chances of bacteria being spread from the anus to the urethra.  Drink plenty of water, do not ignore the call to go to the toilet and try to urinate frequently throughout the day.

At the first sign of an attack of cystitis, drink as much fluid as possible to flush out the bacteria.  Drinking cranberry juice may also help.

Try to identify what is causing the problem if the cystitis is caused by irritation.  Suspect things such as soaps, bubble bath, shower gels and vaginal deodorants which are perfumed, and avoid using them again.