The Vagina series Part 2- why does my Vagina itch?

In part one of the Vagina series, we discussed how every Vagina is different and why it smells.

Part 2 looks into why your Vagina may be Itchy?

There are many reasons and if you are concerned you should always consult your GP.

Firstly to have an idea of the reason, you need to work out whether it is the internal part of your vagina, or the labia, the pubic area, all the external stuff you can see.

Internal Itch

Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

If it’s an internal itch, this can be a sign of Bacterial vaginosis (BV), BV otherwise known as Thrush This is a mild yeast infection of the vagina, caused by an imbalance in healthy bacteria and a change in the pH. This can be caused by getting your period, washing your vagina, semen, or taking antibiotics. You’ll know your itch is down to BV if you notice your discharge has a strong fishy smell, especially after sex, or is thin and watery. BV is usually treated with an antibacterial gel or pills, which can be bought over the counter or given by a GP or sexual health clinic. Thrush is extremely common. You can tell you have a yeast infection if your discharge is thick and white, like cottage cheese, you feel itching and irritation in around the vagina, and you experience soreness or stinging during or after sex or when you pee.

Treatment is easy, and can be picked up from a pharmacist, and is usually in the form of a pessary (a tablet you put inside your vagina) and a cream to relieve irritation. After treatment yeast infections should clear up within a week. If they don’t, it’s time to go to your GP. To prevent yeast infection in the future, it’s crucial to avoid soaps and scented products to clean your genitals, dry the area properly after washing (not internally, only externally), and avoid wearing tight synthetic fabrics. Yeast infections are also more common in those with diabetes, those taking antibiotics, and those with a weakened immune system.

Semen Allergy 

If you’ve noticed that your vagina itches and burns immediately after penetrative sex, it’s possible you may have a semen allergy. You can test this by having sex using a condom and seeing if the symptoms disappear. If they do, the pain and itching is likely down to a semen allergy. If they don’t, something else is likely to be going on and go see your GP.

Latex Allergy 

Again, if you’ve noticed the itching after sex, and you used a condom, you may be sensitive to latex. This doesn’t mean you should just ditch the condoms (safe sex is important, pals). Thankfully there are plenty of condoms available without latex, designed just for all us latex-sensitive types.

Trichomoniasis.

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a teeny tiny parasite, trichomonas vaginales. Up to half of those affected have no symptoms, so it’s important to get regular checks even if you feel totally fine, but one common sign of trichomoniasis is itching in the vagina. Other symptoms include a change in discharge, which may be thick, frothy, yellow-green in colour, or have an unpleasant smell. You’ll also experience discomfort when urinating or having sex, and may notice swelling around the vagina. Thankfully, this STI can be treated with antibiotics. If you think you may have it, head to your GP and don’t have sex until you have the all-clear. Your sexual partners will need to be informed and checked too.

Hormonal Changes

Using hormonal contraception or going through the menopause can cause itching internally thanks to a drop in oestrogen production, which can also cause dryness. Chat to your doctor about your options, which will likely include the use of a lubricant or a moisturizer designed specifically for the vagina.

External Itch

Why is my vulva itchy? A lot of the causes of vaginal itchiness above will also cause vulva itching, but there are some issues that will likely only cause an external itch.

Contact Dermatitis

Be careful what you use, a change in shower gels, soaps, deodorants, laundry detergent, could all have an effect on your flower. Try reverting back to your original products and see if it makes a difference. Your itch could be a reaction to that. If your itching appeared shortly after you tried Genital herpes The big one. If you’re experiencing itching, burning, or tingling in or around your vulva, you may have genital herpes. You may also notice small blisters around your vulva, anus, thighs, or buttocks, that burst to leave red, open sores. These symptoms can take months or even years to appear, and herpes can lay dormant for ages. Symptoms may clear up on their own, but they can come back, meaning it’s essential to head to your GP or sexual health clinic for treatment and education. If you’re found to have genital herpes, your previous and current sexual partners will need to be informed. There’s no cure for herpes, but there are ways to treat the symptoms when they pop up, including antiviral medicine and cream for the pain and itching.

Lichen Sclerosus 

This is a long-term skin condition that mainly affects the vulva, although it can appear on the upper arms, back, breasts, and shoulders. It can cause itching, small white patches on the skin, fragile skin, red or purple blood blisters, and pain when having sex or going for a poo. We don’t know what causes lichen sclerosus, but we do know it’s not an infection and it can’t be spread to other people. If you think you may have LS it is important to see your GP and get treatment quickly.

Eczema

Yes, you can get eczema on your vulva. This’ll cause sore, red, dry skin as well as itching, and can be treated (but not cured) through moisturizing treatments and topical corticosteroids.

Psoriasis

Another skin condition that causes red, flaky, patches of skin covered with silvery scales, along with itching and soreness. It’s caused by having an increased production of skin cells, which creates a build-up and is thought to be related to an issue with the immune system. Most people’s psoriasis is triggered by an event, such as a period stress, an infection, or a reaction to a medicine. Again, there’s no cure, but there are plenty of treatments available including topical creams and phototherapy.

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