Nothing worse than getting itchy in a place you can't exactly freely scratch. Vaginal itching can be caused by something really simple like your period products or it could be a sign of something far more complicated. This guide can help you figure out exactly what it is that is putting the fire in your panties. But remember, this is only a guide. You should always consult your gyno to find out for certain and before taking any treatments.
1. Bacterial Vaginosis
The most common reason for vaginal itching is bacterial vaginosis (or BV). It is caused by an imbalance of healthy bacteria and a change in the vaginal pH. According to Lauren Streicher, M.D., author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever,
BV feels similar to a yeast infection but in this case the discharge is more watery and has an odour. As for a treatment, Streicher recommends using an OTC cream like RepHresh. If you BV doesn't clear in the suggested usage time, head to your doctor for something stronger.
2. Yeast Infections
Similar to BV, yeast infections often occur when your vaginal pH is out of whack. They can pop up completely randomly or following antibiotic use, stress, sex or a change in diet. Women with diabetes are at a higher risk for yeast infections. On top of the itchiness, you will notice curdled, white or thick discharge. You can use an OTC like Monistat and that should clear up your symptoms within a day or two. Wendy Askew, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at the Institute for Women's Health in San Antonio says that to avoid recurrent infections, take a probiotic with a high bacteria count of acidophilus, this should help keep yeast in check.
3. Contact Dermatitis
This skin irritation is caused by allergies to certain products, says Brett Worly, M.D., assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ohio State University. These products can include perfumes and additives, including condoms and lubricants, and you may also notice redness, swelling and skin thickening. This can also be the result of shaving. If you are susceptible to irritation, use hypoallergenic hygiene products, shampoos, fabric softeners and laundry detergents. You should avoid shaving if you are sensitive and never, ever, ever douche. As Streicher explains, the vagina is self cleaning so there is no need to put something in it or on it.
4. Eczema or Psoriasis
Genetic skin disorders can cause itching and redness in the genital area. If you are diagnosed with either of these, a mild steroid like hydrocortisone and taking oatmeal baths may help you get some relief. If you don't feel better within a week, see your doctor as it may be time to try other treatments.
5. Sexually Transmitted Disease (STDs)
We're going to say it one more time, having sex without a condom can lead to STDs. There are a bunch of STDs that can make your vagina itch. These include chlamydia, herpes, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhea. If you have any hair down there, crabs and public lice might be to blame. With any of these conditions, itching or tingling can quickly lead to pain and burning. If you have itching coupled with any other symptoms like burning while you pee, foul-smelling discharge, sores on your genitals, and pain during sex, you should get to the gyno immediately to be tested.
6. Lichen Sclerosus
This conditions appears as white spots on the skin. It may seem like it comes out of no where but some doctors believe hormones or an overactive immune system could be part of the problem. This condition needs to be diagnosed by a gynecologist and treated with prescription medication.
You may experience vaginal itching any time your hormone levels shift or fluctuate like during your period, pregnancy, menopause, or while you're taking birth control. Dryness is another sign that hormones may be the culprit. Period products, like pads and panty liners, often contain fragrances or colours that can cause irritation. If you find you are often itchy, try switching to a menstrual cup or organic cotton products. It is hard to tell if your itching is caused by your birth control pill as the only way to to know for sure is to stop taking it. With any of these hormonal changes, your doc may prescribe a hormonal cream to apply or you may want to talk about switching pills if the problem persists.
If you have ever itched to the point of being concerned, I hope this clears up a thing or two for you. But remember, before diagnosing yourself and finding your own treatment options, go see your gyno. When it comes to the lady parts, better safe than sorry!