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Itchy Down There? Reasons Why and What to Do About It

If you’ve ever had a yeast infection, then you know it’s an incredibly relentless, uncomfortable, and painful condition, and you likely would do anything to avoid a future diagnosis. If you now live in fear of the itch down there, know that not all feminine itching is related to yeast infections. There are a variety of factors that can cause itching and discomfort. In fact, 25 percent of the time when women visit their OBGYN suspecting they have a yeast infection, lab results indicate there is no infection to blame. Read more about some of the factors that could be causing your discomfort, and how to avoid them.

Dermatitis, or Inflammation of the Skin

If what you’re experiencing is an itching of the exterior vulva and not any internal itching, you may have a case of dermatitis or an inflammation of the skin. Causes of dermatitis can vary, and may include shaving with a dull razor, wearing tight pants, or keeping your sweaty gym clothes on too long post-workout. Avoiding these triggers is as simple as swapping out your razor when the blade becomes dull, choosing more loose-fitting clothing, and showering and changing promptly after your workout.

Harsh Beauty Products or Regimens

The cleansing or beautify products you use could be drying out your skin, or causing an allergic reaction that’s triggering the itching and discomfort you feel. Any products used around your vaginal area should be free of fragrances and as natural and ingredient-free as possible to avoid irritation. Check the labels of the products you use daily, and consider if a more natural solution may be available. In addition, if you’re douching, it could be drying out and irritating your vagina. Avoid douching products to help ensure you’re not stripping away natural lubricants.

Age

As women age, their estrogen levels naturally lower, which could alter the pH balance of your vagina. When this happens, your vaginal walls tend to thin and dry, resulting in itching, irritation, and pain, especially during sex. If you are premenopausal, talk to your OBGYN about possible supplements or prescription medications that may help balance dipping estrogen levels.

Sex-Related Irritants

Your discomfort may be related to your sexual activities. A new lubricant (or not enough), could be causing irritation. Avoid lubricants that use alcohol, an ingredient that causes irritation in some women. You could also be having a reaction to the latex in your condoms and may want to switch to a latex-free brand.

Bacterial Vaginosis

It’s possible that your itching and discomfort may be caused by this common vaginal infection, which is caused when an overgrowth of the vagina’s naturally occurring bacteria results in inflammation. You may be at an increased risk of bacterial vaginosis if you regularly douche, or have unprotected sex. Your OBGYN will be able to provide a diagnosis and an antibiotic to treat the infection.

Trichomoniasis

In more serious cases, your itching could be caused by something even more concerning than a yeast infection. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a parasite that is becoming increasingly common. Symptoms for women include an odorous vaginal discharge, genital itching, and painful urination. Trichomoniasis can be treated, but you’ll need a diagnosis from your doctor and a prescription for an antibiotic. Like most STDs, trichomoniasis is spread through sexual contact, so the best way to avoid contraction is to follow safe sex practices.

How to Ease Your Itchy Symptoms

If you and your doctor have determined that your vaginal itching is not caused by an infection, a simple DIY remedy can help to ease symptoms. Apply a bland, soothing balm with no active ingredients, such as petroleum jelly, or coconut oil to the problematic area (external only of course).

Remember that the underlying cause of your itching could very well be a yeast infection or early signs that one is developing. If you’ve never been diagnosed with a yeast infection in the past, but have concerns one may be to blame for the discomfort you’re experiencing, make an appointment to see your OBGYN ASAP.

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