- Women's Health
Itchy Vagina? This Could Be Why
Most women have experienced vaginal itching at some point in their lives and it's not a fun experience. It's not fun having the itch itself, and it's not fun having to find a way to be discreet about scratching that itch if you're not in the privacy of your own home. The good news is that nearly every vaginal itch has a cure and many of those cures don't require a visit to the doctor. That said, there are some causes of vaginal itching that will require both a visit to your doctor and the issuance of either an antibiotic or antifungal medication. Read on to determine what the cause of your itchy vagina might be.
Yeast Infections / Thrush
Is there a grown woman on Earth who hasn't had a yeast infection? When I was in my 20s I got them frequently (until I discovered the cause and eliminated the irritant) and quickly learned the signs and symptoms. A vaginal yeast infection can cause tremendous itching that scratching does little to satisfy. It may also burn or result in pain when you try to scratch it. Your vulva may be red and inflamed but this is not always the case. Some women experience a cottage-cheese-like discharge and odor but I have personally never experienced this myself, nor do I know of anyone else who has. Fortunately a vaginal thrush (candida albicans) infection is easily sorted with over the counter medications like Monistat. If you're catching it at the earliest stage, Monistat 1 is probably going to work fine -- but if you've got more advance symptoms I'd go with Monistat 3 or 7 as Monistat 1 sometimes doesn't do well on more developed candida infections.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial Vaginosis can be very mild and produce few or no symptoms, or it can be a raging overgrowth of normal vaginal flora which results in a very itchy and foul smelling vagina. If your infection is really developed you may even have pain when tinkling. This cannot be treated with over the counter meds; you need a prescription from your doctor. It's not an STD but it can lead to other problems if you don't treat it in a timely fashion so be sure to see your gynecologist if you have these symptoms.
Sweat and/or Poor Hygiene
Sweat isn't indicative of poor hygiene, obviously, but I'm grouping these together because they are both solved by bathing and proper cleansing of the vaginal area. If you let sweat and bacteria build up in the vulva area, not only is it going to smell badly, it can become itchy as well. If you have issues with sweat you may want to avoid silk panties and the like and switch to something made of cotton to better help absorption of sweat. Baby wipes can do wonders to sort this kind of issue out, too.
If you've used too much detergent in your laundry or if you've used a body spray on sensitive bits, it can lead to an allergic skin reaction. If you're allergic to certain materials this can produce a similar effect. If you think you may have ultra sensitive skin down there, use a detergent for sensitive skin and avoid perfumed products like feminine sprays and perfumed/dyed toilet paper. Scented tampons and pads can also irritate the vagina so you may want to switch to something more organic.
Vaginal dryness is more common with menopausal women but if you've got issues with a dry vagina it's could very well result in irritation which could then easily lead to an itchy vagina. The best way to counter this is to lubricate the vagina and vulvar area with a product specifically intended for such a use. (Interesting to note that over-drying oneself after urinating can also lead to dryness and irritation.)
Douching is bad for you, no exceptions. Douche and you strip your vagina of everything it needs to maintain its natural, healthy pH. Once you've screwed that balance up things can get out of hand and lead to any number of itchy vagina issues, such as a yeast infection.
This isn't all that common these days (thanks to the popularity of shaving or waxing the general vicinity), but pubic lice can be acquired from beds, towels and sexual contact. You don't have to have been intimate with someone to pick it up so you may want to give yourself an exam to rule out this possibility.
Some sexually transmitted diseases can result in an itchy vagina. Trichomoniasis, for example, is one of them. Herpes may also cause itching but that itching often has other clean signs like blisters to go along with it.