How do I stop itching down there?
Vaginal and vulvar itching affects women of all ages. One study suggests that as many as one in 15 women suffer from vulvar issues by the age of 40, and itching associated with vaginal dryness is even more common during perimenopause and after menopause.
Vaginal itching can distract you from your work, disrupt your sleep, and even make you feel like you’re going mad. Plus, itching leads to scratching, and scratching delicate tissue like that found around the vagina can increase the risk of an infection.
But before you can determine how to stop the itching, you have to know why you itch.
What causes vaginal and vulvar itching?
The occasional itch is perfectly normal. But persistent itching isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be a sign of something serious that you shouldn’t ignore. If you’re experiencing vaginal itching, burning, or pain that’s interrupting your daily life, has been going on for a while, or is accompanied by other symptoms, see your doctor to rule out the following:
Skin disorders. Conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and lichen sclerosus can affect the vulva and vagina. If you have a new rash on or around your vagina, see your doctor.
Autoimmune disorders. Some autoimmune disorders, in particular Sjögren’s, cause dryness. Women with Sjögren’s often experience severe vaginal dryness, which can be accompanied by bothersome itching, burning, and pain.
Infections. An overgrowth of yeast can cause vaginal candidiasis, aka a yeast infection. An imbalance of good and harmful bacteria causes bacterial vaginosis. Any woman can get either of these infections, and a physician can help.
Sexually transmitted diseases. The rate of STDs increased in 2018 for the fifth consecutive year, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control. Though many women with STDs don’t know they have them, others experience vaginal itching as a symptom of an infection. The most common STDs in women are HPV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and genital herpes.
If a skin disorder, an infection, or an STD is not the reason your vagina itches, it could be a reaction to soap, detergent, body wash, bubble bath, pads, tampons, condoms, lubricants, and even toilet paper. Shaving cream or gel can irritate and cause itching, so can razor burn and bikini waxes.
But if you’re healthy — and not the victim of a cheap razor or a flowery new body wash — vaginal itching could be a symptom of menopause.
Can hormones cause vaginal and vulvar itching?
Hormonal fluctuations are another cause of vaginal itching.
During a woman’s childbearing years, her ovaries produce a great deal of estrogen. As she ages and her ovaries begin to shut down, estrogen levels fall.
Perimenopause often lasts several years and leads up to a woman’s last menstrual cycle. During perimenopause estrogen levels fluctuate, causing moisture levels in the skin to do the same. When estrogen is low, skin can feel dry and itchy. Closer to menopause and after, low estrogen levels leads to vaginal atrophy, which can also be experienced as dryness, burning, and itching.
Other reasons a woman’s hormones may be in flux or her estrogen may be low:
- Recent childbirth
- Anti-estrogen drugs used to treat breast cancer or endometriosis
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation
- Removal of the ovaries (called an oophorectomy, sometimes performed with a hysterectomy)
Any of these can cause vaginal dryness and, therefore, itching.
If you’re experiencing vaginal and vulvar itching that’s disrupting your daily life, has been going on for a while, or is accompanied by other symptoms, see your doctor. But if there’s not a reason that calls for medical treatment, a high-quality vaginal moisturizer could be all you need.
How to stop vaginal itching
To stop vaginal itching unrelated to an infection or skin disorder, start by avoiding the following:
- Scented laundry detergent
- Fabric softener
- Dryer sheets
- Scented soaps
- Body wash
- Bubble bath
- Vaginal douching
- Scented toilet paper
- Scented sanitary products
- Underwear made from synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon, polypropylene, rayon, or a blend with these materials)
- Very tight underwear, jeans, or leggings
Then consider a vulvar and vaginal moisturizer.
Some physicians prescribe vaginal estrogen for vaginal dryness, but many women don’t want to take hormones. Some women try over-the-counter products sold in drugstores and find that they leak, drip, and otherwise make a mess. That’s why we created Satisfem™ Gel and Satisfaite™. Available without a prescription, our water-based products are made without hormones from hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which hydrate and protect delicate tissues. With regular use, they can make a big difference in itching, burning, and pain.
FemmePharma wants to help you have a happier, healthier vagina. Check out our evidence-based products that help with vaginal itching.