What are the Causes of Vaginal Itching?

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Body wash products can sometimes cause vaginal itching.
Body wash products can sometimes cause vaginal itching.

There are several causes of vaginal itching, including infections, stress, and outside irritants. Changes in a woman's hormone levels, during menopause or while breastfeeding, are also common causes of vaginal itching. Although vaginal itching may clear up on its own, a woman may want to see a doctor if she suspects it is caused by an infection.

Yeast infections are probably considered the most common cause of vaginal itching. Nearly three quarters of all women will have a yeast infection at some point, some more frequently than others. When a woman has a yeast infection, she experiences burning and pain in the vaginal and vulvar area as well as a thick discharge. The infection can be treated with external creams that relieve the itching as well as oral pills or vaginal suppositories to clear up the infection.

Infections, stress and soaps or clothing can cause vaginal itching.
Infections, stress and soaps or clothing can cause vaginal itching.

Since other infections are also causes of vaginal itching, a woman should see her doctor if she has never had a yeast infection and is experiencing itching. Bacterial vaginosis is another common infection that leads to itching, discharge, and an unpleasant odor. It is caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the area. It cannot be treated with the same methods as a yeast infection, so it is important that it be diagnosed properly and the right medication prescribed.

Gonorrhea, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginal itching.
Gonorrhea, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginal itching.

Certain sexually transmitted diseases (STD), including gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and herpes can also cause vaginal itching. Tests at a doctor's office will determine if STDs are the causes of vaginal itching. Gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. Herpes cannot be cured, but can be controlled with medication.

Changes in a woman's estrogen levels can lead to thinning of the vaginal walls as well as less lubrication. The thinner walls are more prone to irritation and to itching. A woman usually experiences shifts in her hormone levels while breastfeeding or as she goes through menopause. Itching caused by hormone changes may be relieved with lubricants or moisturizers or by soaking in a warm bath.

A woman should see her doctor if she has never had a yeast infection and is experiencing itching.
A woman should see her doctor if she has never had a yeast infection and is experiencing itching.

Sometimes, the laundry detergent or body wash a woman uses can cause vaginal itching, especially if she is prone to sensitive reactions to fragrances or chemicals. A few women may experience itching after using spermicide foams, condoms, or douches. Wearing wet underwear or a wet bathing suit for a long period can also cause itching, as can wearing underwear made of synthetic, non-breathable fibers. The best way to treat itching caused by external irritants is to stop using the suspected product.

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Discussion Comments

bluedolphin

@SarahGen-- It could be a vaginal yeast infection symptom as well. Sometimes, symptoms of a yeast infection worsen after intercourse. In fact, frequent intercourse is mentioned as a possible cause of yeast infections in women by some sources.

What basically happens is that the pH of semen disturbs the pH balance of the vagina. When the pH balance is disturbed, natural yeast in the vagina may overgrow and cause an infection. That's why women are not supposed to have sex while they are being treated for a yeast infection and the partner should be treated simultaneously.

candyquilt

@SarahGen-- I'm not a doctor and I urge you to make an appointment with your gynecologist to rule out STDs. Vaginal itching and burning, discharge and pain could be symptoms of STDs.

I personally experienced this when I was newly married. My doctor at the time told me that it's a mild allergy to sperm that would disappear with time. She was right, my itching disappeared after about a month of regular sexual intercourse. It's actually very common among women. It could also be an allergy to latex if your partner is using latex condoms.

Another cause of vaginal itching could be irritation due to rough sex. If sex is rough for you or if it causes you pain, you need to take it easy. It's a good idea to use lots of lubrication to avoid irritation.

SarahGen

What might be the cause of vaginal itching after sex? I became sexually active recently and noticed that I experience vaginal itching for several hours after sex. Is this normal? Will it go away with time?

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    • Body wash products can sometimes cause vaginal itching.
      Body wash products can sometimes cause vaginal itching.
    • Infections, stress and soaps or clothing can cause vaginal itching.
      Infections, stress and soaps or clothing can cause vaginal itching.
    • Gonorrhea, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginal itching.
      Gonorrhea, herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginal itching.
    • A woman should see her doctor if she has never had a yeast infection and is experiencing itching.
      A woman should see her doctor if she has never had a yeast infection and is experiencing itching.
    • Hormonal changes during breastfeeding may cause vaginal itching.
      Hormonal changes during breastfeeding may cause vaginal itching.
    • Many cases of vaginal itching are caused by vaginitis and can be treated with prescription medication.
      Many cases of vaginal itching are caused by vaginitis and can be treated with prescription medication.
    • Women with sensitive skin should avoid scented feminine hygiene products, which can cause vaginal itching.
      Women with sensitive skin should avoid scented feminine hygiene products, which can cause vaginal itching.
    • Some types of condoms, and spermicides used with condoms, can irritate the vagina.
      Some types of condoms, and spermicides used with condoms, can irritate the vagina.