If you’ve ever experienced Vaginal Thrush, you’ll be familiar with the itching, discharge and general feeling of imbalance. It can understandably be accompanied by low mood and a feeling of being disconnected from your sexuality. Low mood can also be a symptom of an overgrowth of candida (the yeast that can cause Thrush to flourish if conditions are right for it). And we are also aware that low mood can also bring a low libido, and there starts the downward spiral of being sexually distant from yourself.
So how can we bring self-love back into our self-care routine when our vagina is causing so much bother?
First of all, recognise, it’s *not* your vagina, it’s the overgrowth of candida. So we need to get that balance back. For an acute outbreak it’s recommended you seek advice from a medical practitioner or pharmacist and get some anti-thrush treatment—they come in 3 forms, an oral pill, vaginal pessary and active cream to soothe itching.
Thrush can be a very uncomfortable condition so how can we soothe ourselves when things are bad?
We spoke to Kathie Bishop from Into the Wylde—Kathie is a medical herbalist who specialises in the treatment of acute and recurrent thrush. She offers help and advice to bring your thrush under control and ease symptoms, hoping to realign your energy and balance. She is strongly in favour of keeping connected to your vagina and pelvic area, and for long-term sufferers of the condition to pay particular attention to your sensual and sexual needs.
“I think part of it is to get thrush under control and reduce inflammation of the skin. Do the things that are going to make you feel better, be that over the counter medicines, or going to see a heath care professional (herbalists included!) to get to treated, especially if it’s a recurrent situation. If an activity irritates you further don’t continue until your thrush is back under control. But the key is to try and not disconnect from that part of yourself, mentally and physically. Check in with your body and listen to the message it's giving you. Don’t ignore it—attend to its needs—total self-care, self-love. There are plenty of sexual and sensual practices that don’t require vaginal or even vulval interplay (thought it can be hard to resist once you are in the mood). Sensual practices you can do for yourself such as hip massage with sensual oils really can help to engage and build your feminine energy.”
Kathie is currently developing a range products to ease symptoms, including massage oils and a balanced lube so you don’t have to miss out on sexy time fun. Keep up to date at Into The Wylde.
“A big thing to remember is, it’s not your fault, there’s no reason to feel ashamed.” Thrush is a natural part of having a vagina. Kathie explains, “75% of women will experience it at least once in their lives, with around 6% of all women experiencing it recurrently. Stay creative, and stay connected. Something as simple as a hip massage with sensual oils after a shower can help keep that feminine sexy energy alive. And of course, always go and seek treatment— and a diagnosis to make sure your treating the right thing in the right way.”
What about masturbation?
We are big fans of masturbation and self-pleasure to lift mood and boost the libido, so does it work for thrush? Tabitha (Ruby Glow inventor) recently wrote this post – "I’m Depressed and now My Vagina’s Against Me? How knowing I had thrush actually helped my depression" A look at how having a reason for feeling low can be a good thing and how reading some erotica boosted her sexual energy, even while feeling that disconnectedness that Kathie spoke of. She was surprised to become aroused and even more delighted when she found that external stimulation through her knickers brought a very comforting and much needed orgasm. Physical, medical and emotional treatment worked very quickly to bring everything back into alignment.
That’s great for masturbation, but what about sex with a partner?
“There can be a lot of shame around having thrush," says Kathie, "Mainly because it can be seen as being dirty or as an STD - but it actually isn’t. And sex isn't dirty or shameful—it’s a natural human energy, is our birth right and the reason we are here. Part of reconnecting can be about being gentle with oneself- meaning not to make expectations of yourself—and self-appreciation and self-care can be useful ways to do this.”
During an outbreak, it might be more beneficial to spend time on intimacy and connecting physically through massage and sensual touch—making pleasure and relaxation the goal, rather than orgasm or penetrative sex. This can strengthen the sexual bond and trust too as you learn to open up and feel at peace with your body in its current situation with thrush.
Of course thrush does not mean you can’t have glorious orgasms or sexual connections, just take it slowly and listen to your body and how it responds. Keep the connection to your own body alive and above all, take care of you. It won’t be long until you and your vagina are happy again!
Pop on over to Kathie's site, Into the Wylde for more advice on treating thrush and the symptoms of thrush.
Ruby Glow can be used through your knickers and is non-penetrative, perfect for those times where you need a little extra comfort and stimulation.