Gynecologists commonly see vaginal itching as a symptom their patients are experiencing. The reason your vagina itches can be a number of things, from your choice of underwear to an STD. So, it’s important to figure out what’s going in. Read on to learn some possible causes for vaginal itching.
These are common infections. In fact, three-fourths of women will have one at some point. Extreme itchiness and an odorless white discharge that is thick are well known symptoms of a yeast infection. “We suggest you at least call your doctor to discuss your symptoms rather than going to the drugstore to buy an OTC treatment,” says Julianna Schantz-Dunn, MD, an ob-gyn at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “If you randomly self-treat and it’s not a yeast infection, you can make the problem worse,” she says
This can be caused by certain products and fabrics. Avoid wearing scented panty liners or wearing any for too long, scented soaps, douching, and using scented feminine powders and sprays. Your vagina also needs to breathe, so wear cotton underwear. Synthetic fabrics can trap moisture against your skin. Gently wash yourself down there with unscented soap, only on the outside.
This is a common STI caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. The CDC says that while 3.7 million people–mostly women–are infected, only 30 percent are aware of it because it often causes no symptoms. Be sure to see your doctor right away if you experience burning, itching, a change in discharge, or external white cracking of the skin. Don’t assume it’s a yeast infection.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
This is a vaginal infection that can cause some itching, but it more likely to show up in the form of foul-smelling discharge. Be sure to tell your doctor all of your symptoms, so they can more easily identify your issue.
Not everyone who gets herpes gets large lesions that are easy to see, so you won’t necessarily spot it. “You may feel some itching or painful urination, but the symptoms may not be as severe as you’d think,” Dr. Schantz-Dunn says. “I’ve seen people try to treat herpes with a topical yeast medication—and that doesn’t do much.”
Your vagina may be changing along with your hormonal changes if you’re post-menopausal. A dip in estrogen can thin the mucosal lining in the vagina. This can be treated with vaginal estrogen cream or tablet, thankfully!