Are Canesten thrush cream, pessaries and tablets safe to use during pregnancy?

Which medication to treat yeast infections are deemed OK to take – and what does the latest research say?

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In a nutshell

Canesten thrush cream is safe if you’re pregnant, but oral thrush pills are not. Pessaries are also safe but be aware you’ll need to insert them carefully.

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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. The good news is that most thrush medicine is safe to use when you’re pregnant – but not all.

While the chemicals in pessaries and thrush creams are safe, research in January 2016 suggests a link between Fluconazole – the main ingredient in anti-thrush pills that you take by mouth (oral) – and a 50% increased risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy.

In the UK, the best-selling anti-thrush oral pills are Canesten Oral Capsule and Canesten Oral and Cream Duo – so avoid these. You used to also be able to buy Diflucan, but this is no longer available at pharmacies.

“Oral fluconazole use in pregnancy was associated with a significantly increased risk of spontaneous abortion,” explain the authors of the study, who looked at 1.4 million pregnancies in Denmark.

The researchers are calling for more research to be done to understand the link, and in the meantime are urging caution. “Until more data on the association is available, cautious prescribing of fluconazole in pregnancy may be advisable.”

What is safe?

Thrush creams and pessaries, such as:

  • Canesten Combi
  • Canesten Pessary
  • Canesten Soft Gel Pessary
  • Canesten Cream

These all contain a different active ingredient – Clotrimazole – which has not been found to have any harmful effects during pregnancy.

What is not safe?

Anti-thrush pills you swallow, which contain Fluconazole, such as:

  • Canesten Oral Capsule
  • Canesten Oral and Cream Duo

And if you’re unsure…

Always buy from a pharmacist and explain that you’re pregnant, so they can choose the safest product for you. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor or midwife.

Our MFM mums on our forum say:

“I am 34 weeks +4 days pregnant and have had thrush for about 13 weeks now,” explains Rach_and_Harry. “I started just using the cream and it went but came back. So I went to my midwife who got my GP to prescribe me Canesten cream as it’s rather expensive.”

“I’ve had thrush a few times,” says Sah83. “Once at about 10 or 11 weeks and once at about 15 weeks (I’m now just over 23). I was treated by my GP with Canesten pessary and cream both times, and this cleared it up for me.”

“I had the same [thrush] problem and left it thinking it would just go away like it has done in the past,” adds ButterflyBride123. “But when it didn’t go away, I went to the doctors and they give me the pessary/cream (I was 8 weeks then). They said it would be safe although it said on the leaflet advise doctor if you’re pregnant. Mine cleared up the next day and hasn’t returned since.”

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