V*gina itching that just won’t go away is uncomfortable to talk about, and even more uncomfortable to deal with.
But before you assume you’re dealing with yeast infection symptoms (which is likely, but not certain), it’s important to know the symptoms of other common conditions and talk to a doctor.
Here, a gynecologist, Dr. Mae Borchardt, explains it all…
• Vaginal itching that just won’t go away could be something as innocuous as irritation from a dull razor or something that requires immediate treatment — such as a sexually transmitted disease.
• It’s important to rule out more serious causes — for instance, vaginal itching may be caused by trichomoniasis, a common STD that requires a powerful antibiotic to treat.
• In rare cases, itching accompanied by a non-healing ulcer may be a sign of vulvar cancer.
• Lifestyle factors may be responsible for vagina itching. When you’re dealing with external itching on the vulva — not internal itching that stretches into the v*gina — it may be dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin caused by dull razors, tight pants, or sweaty workout clothes.
• Itching can be caused by s*x. If you recently tried a new lubricant with your partner (or you aren’t using enough), it may cause vaginal itching and discomfort. This is because many lubricants have alcohol in them, which can be very irritating to the vaginal area; while having intercourse without adequate lubrication can also cause a lot of friction, leading to vagina irritation.
• You may be allergic to latex, which is found in the main types of condoms.
• Itching may be caused by menopause. The lower oestrogen levels you experience as you approach menopause can actually change the pH balance of your vagina, causing the vaginal walls to thin and dry — a condition called vaginal atrophy. Oestrogen decreases throughout your lifetime, but it can cause symptoms including itching, irritation, and painful intercourse.
• Itching can be caused by hygiene products. The wrong soap can get you scratching. In any case, the vagina is self-cleaning, and you don’t have to clean it with soap. Water alone would do.
• Bacterial vaginosis can cause itching. This is a very common infection, and occurs when an overgrowth of the vagina’s naturally occurring bacteria causes inflammation. Although it can affect women of any age, women of reproductive age are most likely to contract it, and frequent douching and unprotected s*x increase your risk.
The bottom line: See your doctor if you notice an unpleasant odour or if your vaginal itch becomes prolonged or unbearable.