Sorry in advance for putting a dampener on your super sexy Valentine’s Day, but do make sure to look after your genital health in the midst of all the romance.
The traditional V Day treats of boxes of chocolates and a bottle of wine (plus whatever meal deal takes your fancy) can lead to the perfect environment for a yeast infection – also known as thrush – to develop.
Thrush is caused by candida albicans, a natural microflora that can be found in the mouth, the vagina, and the gastrointestinal tract.
Usually candida causes no problems and just hangs out doing its part in the vagina’s ecosystem. But an overgrowth can cause unwanted symptoms.
And eating large amounts of sugar and consuming booze can send candida albicans production into overdrive, leading to a yeast infection – which causes itching, burning, soreness, and pain during sex.
That might ruin your V Day plans.
Dr Diana Gall, of Doctor-4-U, explains: ‘This normally harmonious balance, can be disrupted if a person consumes too much sugar and refined goods which sends candida albicans into overdrive causing thrush.
‘This is especially the case if a person has recently taken antibiotics, as antibiotics can cause an overgrowth of candida.
‘Thrush is an opportunistic infectious agent as far as the digestive pathway is concerned.
‘A diet with too many refined foods, loaded with sugar – such as chocolate and wine – can fuel thrush as it increases sugar in our urine.
‘This overload of sugar feeds the yeast in the genitals.
‘In women the symptoms of vaginal thrush include itching, irritation, discharge, soreness, redness and swelling of the vagina and vulva.
‘Although less common, in men thrush can cause irritation and redness particularly on the head of the penis.’
Symptoms of a yeast infection:
Thrush symptoms in women:
White vaginal discharge like cottage cheese
Itching and irritation around the vagina
Soreness and stinging during sex
Soreness and stinging when you urinate
Thrush symptoms in men:
Irritation, burning and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin
White discharge (like cottage cheese)
An unpleasant smell
Difficulty pulling back the foreskin
The good news is that we’re not all doomed to spend our Valentine’s Day telling our partners not to touch our poor yeast-ridden bits.
Just be aware of how your diet can impact your sexual wellbeing, take it easy on the sugar, and keep prioritising your genital health – especially if you’ve been looking forward to a marathon sex session on 14 February.
In addition to managing your intake of chocolate and wine, Dr Gall suggests that anyone prone to thrush avoids fermented foods in the lead up to the big day.
‘You can manage it by watching what you eat and avoiding other trigger foods,’ she said.
‘This includes bread, blue cheeses, vinegar, soya sauce, Marmite and mushrooms.’
Make sure to wear loose-fitting clothes and simple cotton or silk underwear (save the lace lingerie for Valentine’s night), wash the genitals with water rather than any scented products, and don’t mess around with any products or perfumes – remember that the vagina is very good at looking after itself.
If you do notice symptoms of thrush, don’t panic and don’t rush for any home remedies you find online. Talk to your GP to get proper treatment to clear up the irritation sharpish.