Why Does My Vagina Itch Before My Period?

A little itching before your period is normal, but if you’ve noticed that it seems to be happening more frequently and getting worse, it might be time to talk to a doctor. Consider trying OTC treatments and making simple changes like switching to reusable pads or menstrual cups.

Vaginal itching is a common problem among women. It can be caused by yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis or hormonal changes.

Yeast Infection

Yeast infections are common in the lead-up to your period. Fluctuations in hormones can change the pH balance in your vagina and disrupt healthy bacteria, which allows yeast (candida) to overgrow. This can cause symptoms like itching, thick white discharge with the consistency of cottage cheese, a rash, redness around the vulva and vulva vaginal pain during sex. Yeast infections are usually easy to treat with over-the-counter and prescription antifungal medication, but it’s important to let your doctor know if you have other hallmark symptoms of infection including pain during sex and a burning feeling when you pee.

Don’t douche or use talcum powder because this can flush away the good bacteria that help fight off infection. Also, don’t douch – it’s not only unsanitary but can make the problem worse by helping yeast and other unwanted bacteria grow. If you suspect you have a yeast infection or BV, your doctor can take cultures using a quick swab right on the spot – even when you’re on your period. Then they can prescribe the best treatment for you.

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Bacterial Vaginosis

BV happens when there are more bad bacteria in the vagina than good ones. It’s a common condition that affects many young women. Symptoms of BV include itching, a sticky or fishy-smelling discharge, and pain while peeing. It’s important to see a doctor for BV, because it may not be treated with OTC antibiotics or over-the-counter antifungal products.

Another common reason your vulva and vagina might itch before your period is a yeast infection. This condition, called cyclic vulvovaginitis, is caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. Candida grows naturally in the vagina, but it’s usually kept in check by the Lactobacillus bacteria that are found there. The hormonal changes that happen during the menstrual cycle can disrupt this balance, causing it to grow out of control and lead to a yeast infection.

The cervix becomes more open during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle, which can increase the likelihood of an STI like trichomoniasis (known as trich). This condition is also triggered by hormonal changes and creates itching, burning, stinging, or tenderness in the vulva and vagina.

Hormonal Changes

Women’s hormones fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle, peaking around ovulation and then dropping down to their lowest point before your period. These shifts can cause itching and dryness of the vulva and labia. If this itchiness is combined with white discharge, it could be a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.

The change in oestrogen levels can also make you more sensitive to things like clothes, detergents, soaps and feminine sprays. The oestrogen also helps keep your vaginal lubrication balanced, so when it drops, the vulva can become dry and itchy.

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Another cause of itching before your period is old blood that’s lingering in the vulva. Itching can also be caused by using tampons, which not only absorb your period blood but soak up the natural lubrication of your vulva as well. The use of tampons can also increase the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as trichomoniasis, which is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Itching that happens at the same time every month, regardless of the reason for it, is a condition called cyclic vulvovaginitis.

Allergies

Itching down there is never a good sign, especially when it’s accompanied by a thick white discharge. Itching is a common symptom of sexually transmitted illnesses like chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes. These infections can also cause symptoms like a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, so it’s important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.

Vaginal itching can also be caused by chemical irritants from soaps, perfumes and detergents. Itching can also occur due to changes in bathing products, scented feminine hygiene products or even changing the brand of your tampons or pads. Using a natural menstrual cup, reusable pads or cotton suppositories can help reduce itching and irritation.

Itching before your period is nothing to be embarrassed about, but it is important to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN for a proper diagnosis and to make sure that you’re not dealing with a more serious medical issue. Self-diagnosing can lead to inappropriate over-the-counter medications or delays in diagnosis and treatment of a more serious health issue. This could result in more serious complications, including infection or cancer.

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Infections

If your itching down there is accompanied by pain, pus, or an unusually foul smell (think rotten fish), you probably have a bacterial infection called trichomoniasis. The bacteria in your vagina have a delicate balance that keeps them in check, but when the sway to the bad side, it can lead to infection. You can diagnose trichomoniasis with a simple test, which involves using a cotton swab to sweep your vaginal discharge onto a special plate fixed with potassium hydroxide (KOH).

Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, usually causes itching around the groin and crotch area rather than in the anus or vulva. This skin condition is caused by a type of dermatitis, which can be an allergic reaction to irritants like perfumes and soaps or can occur due to poor hygiene.

A bit of itching and irritation down there before your period is fairly common. But if it’s persistent or gets worse, make sure to talk to your OB/GYN to see what’s going on. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis because treating the wrong thing can lead to more problems.

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