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Why is My Vagina Itchy and How Do I Fix It?

Why is My Vagina Itchy and How Do I Fix It?

Vaginitis refers to inflammation in the vagina that is usually caused by an infection or changes in the balance of vaginal flora. Signs and symptoms of vaginitis include:

  • Change in the amount, color, or odor of vaginal discharge
  • Pruritis (severe itchiness)
  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Erythema (redness)
  • Dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse)
  • Dysuria (pain or irritation when urinating)
  • Light bleeding or spotting

Although reduced estrogen levels and some skin disorders can cause vaginitis, it is most often caused by infectious agents (bacteria and yeast).1

It’s not always easy to figure out what’s causing your itchy vagina but this article should be helpful. For an exact diagnosis and treatment plan you should consult your doctor.

In this article, we will discuss the potential causes of:

Itchy Vagina with Discharge
Itchy Vagina After Sex
Swollen and Burning, Itchy Vagina
Dry, Itchy Vagina
Itchy Vagina During and After Periods
Itchy Bumps on Vagina
Itchy Vagina After Shaving
Itchy Vagina During Pregnancy
Itchy Painful Vagina
Itchy Bleeding Vagina
Home remedies for vaginal itching

 

probiotics for women

Probiotics for Vagina Health

1. Itchy Vagina with Discharge

Vaginal discharge in and of itself is nothing to cause alarm. Vaginal discharge that is accompanied by itchiness, appears yellow or green, or possesses a foul smell is associated with an infection.2 The three most common vaginal infections and their associated vaginal discharge are as follows:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis – Bacterial vaginosis is the most common cause of vaginal discharge. Discharge often appears grayish-white with a thin consistency and a foul-smelling, fishy odor.3
  • Vaginal candidiasis – Better known as a vaginal yeast infection, candidiasis often results in a subtle discharge that can appear either watery and thin or thick, white, and odorless with a resemblance to cottage cheese.4
  • Trichomoniasis – Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, a protozoan parasite. The discharge from trichomoniasis can look clear or white or have a yellowish or greenish tinge, often accompanied by a fishy smell. Trichomoniasis also causes burning, soreness, redness, and discomfort when urinating or having sexual intercourse.5

2. Itchy Vagina After Sex

An itchy vagina after sex does not always point to infection. Allergies to latex, the main ingredient in most all rubber products, including condoms, tend to be the prime suspect. Allergic reactions to latex are characterized by itchy, red, swollen rashes in the affected area. However, more severe reactions could also result in tightness in the throat, difficulty breathing, and potentially anaphylactic shock. If you believe that condoms may be the problem, consider using latex-free condoms made from polyurethane.6

Alternately, if your vagina does not provide enough natural lubricant, you can get microabrasions inside your vagina during sex. Excess vaginal dryness can result in painful intercourse, but mild or moderate dryness can simply lead to itchiness post-coitus. The more troubling problem with microtears is that they make it easier to contract infections. This can easily be avoided by using more lubricant during sex.7

If you can rule out condoms and lubrication, you are likely suffering from bacterial vaginosis, vaginal candidiasis, or trichomoniasis, which are the most common types of vaginitis.1

Cervicitis, which refers to inflammation of the cervix, can also present as nonspecific vaginal symptoms, like itching. Cervicitis can develop from noninfectious causes, but it most often results from gonorrhea, chlamydia, and other sexually transmitted diseases.8

3. Swollen and Burning, Itchy Vagina

Burning, irritation, and itchiness are characteristic of numerous types of vaginitis, but vaginal candidiasis is the condition most prominently marked by inflammation, itching, and burning.9 Candidiasis is also marked by a thick “cottage-cheese” like discharge. By contrast, bacterial vaginosis has more mild symptoms relating to inflammation and irritation with a clear discharge and “fishy-odor” smell. However, women with bacterial vaginosis can show no signs or symptoms.10

4. Non-infectious Causes of Dry, Itchy Vagina

Burning, irritation, and itchiness together can be caused by noninfectious conditions, such as vulvodynia. Vulvodynia can last for months and years and refers to chronic pain and discomfort around the vulva (the opening of the vagina). The pain, burning, and irritation associated with vulvodynia can be so intense that just sitting for long periods can be uncomfortable. Doctors are still not sure what specifically causes vulvodynia, but possible factors that can contribute to vulvodynia include:

  • Allergies or sensitive skin
  • Injuries to nerves surrounding the vulvar region
  • Hormonal changes11

5. Dry, Itchy Vagina

Vulvovaginal atrophy is a condition associated with reduced levels of estrogen in vaginal tissue. While it can occur at any time in a woman’s life, it is more common during menopause, occurring in about 50 percent of postmenopausal women. Symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy include:

  • Dryness
  • Irritation
  • Soreness
  • Painful intercourse
  • Urgent and frequent urination12

Women with low estrogen levels can also include those who are postpartum, lactating, or taking antiestrogenic medication.13

6. Itchy Vagina During and After Periods

If you experience itchiness during your period, you may be allergic to tampons and pads, which are heavily processed and contain a variety of chemicals on top of the cotton and other synthetic fibers. You should generally aim for unscented feminine products as the chemicals used to scent tampons and pads can irritate vaginal tissue, resulting in itchiness.14 Some studies have also found that tampons can cause or increase vaginal dryness. While they are designed to wick away blood and menstrual fluid, that may also mean absorbing some of the natural vaginal moisture and microflora.15

Your period also causes hormonal fluctuations that can result in higher levels of inflammation throughout your body. Itchiness in the vagina could be a response to this inflammation.16

6. Itchy Bumps on Vagina

General itchiness suggests infection, allergy, or dermatosis (meaning a disease of the skin).17 Focal pruritus suggests more localized disorders, including neoplasia or malignancies.18 Itchy bumps on the vagina can include:

  • Cysts – Vaginal cysts are closed pockets of tissue that appear on or under the vaginal lining and can be filled with air, pus, fluid, or other material.19
  • Fordyce spots – Fordyce spots are enlarged sebaceous glands that usually occur inside your cheeks or around your lips but may also appear on your labia.20
  • Varicosities – Varicose veins refer to veins that have become dilated, twisted, or overfull of blood. Vulvar varicosities are varicose veins appearing on the vulva.21
  • Ingrown hairs – Ingrown hairs occur when your pubic hairs curls back and grows into the skin instead of growing straight out of the skin’s surface.22
  • Vaginal skin tags – Vaginal skin tags are small skin growths that are usually harmless but may exhibit STD-like symptoms.23
  • Lichen sclerosus – This uncommon condition is characterized by patchy white skin that may seem thinner.24
  • Genital herpes – Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease that may cause sores or blisters around the genitals.25
  • Genital warts – Genital warts are caused by certain types of HPV and appear as small, flesh-colored bumps. They are transmissible but are easily treated.26

7. Itchy Vagina and Anus

Itchiness in both the vagina and the anus usually points to a sexually transmitted infection or a vaginal yeast infection that has spread.

Tight fitting clothing, disposable wipes, and scented soaps and detergents can also irritate the vagina and anus, resulting in itchiness and inflammation.27

8. Itchy Vagina After Shaving

Much like facial razor burn, your vaginal area is susceptible to razor burn, even more so considering the area is more sensitive and pubic hair tends to be much thicker. This can result in itchiness, irritation, and ingrown hairs, all of which is exacerbated by scented soaps or chemicals. To avoid itchiness after shaving:

  • Avoid shaving when your skin is dry. Soak your skin under hot water to provide moisture and open up pores.
  • Use a fresh razor every time. Dull razors irritate skin and increase your chance of ingrown hairs.
  • Instead of shaving, trim hairs that are longer than an inch using safety scissors28 or electric hair clippers with a safety guard

9. Itchy Vagina During Pregnancy

Vaginal itching is common during pregnancy. Pregnancy causes an increase in vaginal discharge, which can potentially irritate the vulva, resulting in itchiness.29 Pregnancy also causes normal hormonal changes and changes to the vagina’s pH levels, resulting in itchiness. Vaginal itching during pregnancy can potentially be caused by a sexually transmitted disease, but it usually is not the case.30

10. Itchy Painful Vagina

Vaginal pain is usually evaluated for vaginitis caused by inflammation or nonvaginal sources, which can include vulvodynia and pelvic floor myofascial pain.31 Myofascial pelvic pain syndrome is characterized by short, tight, tender pelvic floor muscles that can cause continuous or episodic pain.32

11. Itchy Bleeding Vagina

Some spotting is generally normal with vaginitis. Excessive bleeding is not a symptom of infectious vaginitis and suggests more erosive causes of vaginitis, like lichen planus.33 Itchiness and bleeding in the vagina may also be caused by problems in the uterus.33

How Can You Prevent Additional Itching and Irritation?

Some easy ways to reduce vaginal itching include:

  • Practicing good hygiene, which includes keeping your genital area clean and wiping from front to back after urinating and bowel movements
  • Avoiding scented soaps, feminine hygiene products, bubble baths, and other products that may cause irritation
  • Avoiding douching, which can irritate your vagina and cause changes to pH and flora
  • Eating a well balanced diet with probiotics
  • Wearing comfortable, breathable fabrics that allow plenty of air circulation
  • Changing out of wet bathing suits and sweaty gym clothes as soon as possible
  • Practicing safe sex35

Consult a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of vaginitis.

Sources:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vaginitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354707
  2. https://www.healthline.com/symptom/vaginal-discharge
  3. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/vaginal-discharge-mean/
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yeast-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20378999
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm
  6. https://www.verywellhealth.com/common-causes-of-vaginal-itching-and-burning-3572490
  7. https://www.bustle.com/articles/43718-why-is-my-vagina-itchy-after-sex-the-common-causes-of-vaginal-irritation-and-how-to
  8. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervicitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20370814
  9. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yeast-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20378999
  10. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352279
  11. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353423
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2800285/
  13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/veterinary-science-and-veterinary-medicine/hypoestrogenism
  14. https://www.bustle.com/articles/183217-can-you-be-allergic-to-tampons-7-things-to-know-if-youre-feeling-itchy-down-south
  15. https://www.self.com/story/your-tampons-could-be-drying-out-your-vagina
  16. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19948602/vaginal-itching-on-period/
  17. https://www.healthline.com/health/dermatoses
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139924/
  19. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001509.htm
  20. https://www.healthline.com/health/fordyce-spots
  21. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vulvar-varicosities
  22. https://www.healthline.com/health/treating-preventing-ingrown-vaginal-hair
  23. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vaginal-skin-tags
  24. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lichen-sclerosus/symptoms-causes/syc-20374448
  25. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm
  26. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/genital-warts
  27. https://youngwomenshealth.org/2018/03/13/i-am-feeling-itchiness-in-the-anus/
  28. https://www.healthline.com/health/itchy-after-shaving
  29. https://www.thebump.com/a/vaginal-itching-swelling-during-pregnancy
  30. https://www.verywellhealth.com/vaginal-itching-3521009
  31. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-women-with-symptoms-of-vaginitis?search=clinical-manifestations-anddiagnosis-of-localized-vulvar-pain-syndrome-formerly-vulvodynia-vestibulitis-or-focal-vulvitis&source=search_result&selectedTitle=5~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=5
  32. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis-of-myofascial-pelvic-pain-syndrome-in-women
  33. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lichen-planus/symptoms-causes/syc-20351378
  34. http://wwwuptodatecom.uptodate.qfsy.yuntsg.cn:7002/contents/approach-to-women-with-symptoms-of-vaginitis?topicRef=8425&source=see_link
  35. https://www.verywellhealth.com/vaginal-itchiness-prevention-and-relief-3522668