Why Does My Vagina Feel Hot?

Occasional itching and irritation of the vulva and anus is normal, but persistent or severe burning can be a sign of a problem. Possible irritants include fragranced soaps, menstrual pads or panty liners, synthetic underwear, bath oils and bubble baths, swimming pool disinfectants and scented toilet paper.

Other causes of vaginal burning include lack of lubrication, allergic reactions and tight muscles surrounding the vulva (vulvodynia). In some cases, symptoms may be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A doctor can diagnose these problems and provide appropriate treatment.

Causes

Feeling a burning sensation down there from time to time is nothing to be alarmed about and can often be soothed or avoided. If it happens on a regular basis however, or if the pain becomes intense and/or you notice a fishy smell, then it is a good idea to see your doctor for advice.

A burning feeling in the vulva can be a symptom of several conditions, some of which are quite serious. It could be an indicator of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea or herpes. It can also be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, which usually involves itching and a fishy odour. Other causes of a vaginal burning sensation include:

Some women have increased sensibility to certain products that can cause irritation, including panty liners, sanitary pads or toilet paper, scented soaps and detergents and tight clothes. A doctor can assess if the issue is an infection and prescribe antibiotics or a vaginal ointment to help reduce symptoms.

Hormone replacement therapy can help reduce burning and itching that occurs during menopause, as can a reduction in stress levels. Psychosexual therapy can also be useful to address any emotional distress or relationship problems that may be causing discomfort. Adding extra lubricant to foreplay can also help to reduce sex-related pain and burning. If you are pregnant and experiencing this sensation, it is best to see your gynecologist immediately as they will be able to determine the underlying cause and recommend treatment accordingly.

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Symptoms

If you’re having a little vaginal itching or burning once in a while, that’s normal and nothing to worry about. However, if you’re feeling this sensation frequently and it’s getting worse over time, that could be a sign of an infection or irritation.

The most common cause of a burning feeling in the vulva is yeast infections, or bacterial vaginosis (BV), which throws off your vagina’s pH. Certain STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, also can cause this feeling.

Irritation in your vulva can also be caused by using a new or heavily scented personal care product, maxi pads or pantyliners, tight-fitting underwear, bicycle or horseback riding and even laundry detergents. To help reduce irritants, try wearing cotton underwear and avoid tight pantyhose or nylons. If you’re using pads, switch to tampons or 100% cotton underwear.

You can also use a cool compress on the area to relieve dryness, itching and burning. You can make this by soaking a cotton washcloth in cold milk or kefir, a fermented milk rich in probiotics.

Another good remedy is to rinse with tea tree oil. The eucalyptus in this essential oil has anti-fungal properties and can help kill any yeast that’s causing you trouble. Use a few drops of the essential oil in your hands and apply it to the vulva and labia. Basil is another herbal option with anti-fungal properties that can be used to soothe the vulva and sooth itching and burning.

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Treatment

Occasional itching and irritation in the lower area are common and usually nothing to worry about, but persistent burning or itching may be a sign of a problem. If you’re worried, see your gynecologist right away to get diagnosed and treated.

Some of the things that can irritate your vulva include certain STIs (like trichomoniasis and chlamydia), bacterial vaginosis, and allergic reactions to condoms, lubricants, soaps, or perfumes. If you have an allergy, your doctor will likely recommend you stop using the product or material that’s causing your symptoms.

Infections like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can cause a burning feeling. They can also cause a fishy odor and other signs of infection. If you suspect an infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it and clear up the infection.

A yeast infection can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medicine or a prescription antifungal cream, or by changing your diet and avoiding sugary foods. If you’re a woman with vulvodynia, you can ease your symptoms by washing the area with plain water instead of soap or detergents; wearing loose cotton underwear; and taking hot baths and showers. You can also use a vaginal moisturizer to keep the skin soft. You can find a natural one, like coconut oil, at your local health food store. You can also talk to your doctor about estrogen supplements, but it’s best to check with your gynecologist first.

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Prevention

Many things can cause irritation around the vulva. Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (which throws off the pH of the hoo-ha and can cause burning), and some STIs like trichomoniasis or chlamydia may all have a burning feeling as a symptom. And certain allergies, like to perfumed shampoos and soaps or scented tampons and pads, can also cause vaginal burning.

A burning feeling during sex isn’t usually a reason to panic, but it does mean you need to use some extra lubricant (especially if you’re having rough sex). An allergy to sperm can also cause tingling and pain in the vulva and external genital area, but this doesn’t affect fertility.

If the burning is accompanied by other symptoms, like painful urination or that “gotta go” feeling but nothing comes out, or it’s a persistent problem, see your doctor right away. Your doctor can test for STIs and give you an antibiotic to treat the infection, or antihistamines to reduce allergy symptoms.

In addition, your doctor can help you prevent vaginal burning by washing your vulva with plain water and avoiding irritants, such as perfumed soaps and tampons, that can cause it. Wearing loose, cotton underwear can help too. And if you’re going through menopause, hormone replacement therapy can balance your estrogen and progesterone levels and lessen the risk of dryness and vaginal burning.

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