Are Canesten thrush cream, pessaries and tablets safe to use during pregnancy?
Which medication to treat yeast infections are deemed OK to take when you're pregnant – and what does the latest research say? Our expert family GP explains
In a nutshell
Canesten Thrush external cream and Canesten pessaries that contain the active ingredient Clotrimazole are safe for use in pregnancy – though, if you choose to use a pessary, be aware you'll need to insert them into your vagina carefully. Canesten Oral thrush pills are not recommended for use in pregnancy.
The expert view
Thrush is very common in pregnancy and. although it won't harm your growing baby, it can be very uncomfortable for you. Most thrush medicines are pretty effective and most, whether sold under the brand name Canesten or not, are safe to use when you're pregnant. But it's important to know there are some thrush medicines that are not advised for use in pregnancy.
It's really all about the main active ingedient: thrush treatments containing the active ingredient Clotrimazole – usually creams and pessaries – are safe; thrush treatments containing Fluconazole – the main ingredient in oral thrush treatments (pills you take by mouth) are not considered safe. That's because research studies have suggested a link between Fluconazole and an increased risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy.¹
Scientists are calling for more research to be done to better understand the risks of Fluconazole in pregnancy but, in the meantime, the general view is one of caution. The British National Formulary, run by NICE (the National Institute for Care and Care Excellence, which doctors use to help guide their prescribing, says fluconazole should be avoided in pregnancy.²
In the UK, the bestselling anti-thrush oral pills are Canesten Oral Capsule and Canesten Oral and Cream Duo but, if you're pregnant, you should avoid these, as they contain Fluconazole. There also used to be a brand called Diflucan, which also contains Fluconazole, but this is no longer available at pharmacies.
More like this
Canesten products: which ones can I use in pregnancy?
If you are pregnant, it is safe to use Canesten thrush creams and pessaries, such as:
- Canesten Thrush Combi Soft Gel Pessary & External Cream
- Canesten Pessary
- Canesten Soft Gel Pessary & External Cream
- Canesten Thrush External Cream
These all contain Clotrimazole, which has not been found to have any harmful effects during pregnancy.
Canesten products: which ones are not advised in pregnancy?
Current guidelines advise against taking anti-thrush pills, designed to be swallowed, that contain Fluconazole, such as:
- Canesten Thrush Oral Capsule
- Canesten Thrush Duo Oral Capsule & External Cream
What about other products for thrush?
There are other, unbranded products for thrush and, if they are pessaries or creams containing Clotrimazole pessaries, they should be fine to use in pregnancy. But please check with your pharmacist first.
And if you're unsure...
Always buy from a pharmacist and explain that you’re pregnant, so they can help you choose the safest product. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor or midwife.
Last reviewed: April 2023. Please note: this advice is not personalised or meant to replace individual advice given to you by your doctor or medical team.
1. Paquette et al. The safety of oral fluconazole therapy in pregnancy. CMAJ 2019 Feb 19; 191(7): E177–E178. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.190079
2. NICE/BNF: Fluconazole
About our expert Dr Philippa Kaye
Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3.
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