Why Does My Vagina Itch on My Period?

Itching inside the vagina, on your vulva or labia, happens frequently during menstruation, thanks to hormonal shifts. Itching down there can also be a sign of yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.

To avoid itching, make sure to use only cotton-based sanitary products or pads. You can also use a douche with cajeput oil, which is anti-fungal and restores the pH balance of your vulva.

1. Irritation

Itchy vaginas are common, especially during menstruation. It can be caused by a variety of things including irritants, yeast infections and even bacterial vaginosis. If you’re experiencing itchy vaginal symptoms, check with your doctor to make sure you are properly diagnosed and treated.

Sometimes the itching can be due to irritants like chemical toxins in tampons, pads or liners. These products can also include perfumes, dyes and chemicals that irritate the delicate skin of the vulva and clitoris. Changing to an unscented tampon or pad can help ease the irritation.

Another cause can be chafing. It is important to use loose, breathable underwear and avoid synthetic materials. It’s also recommended to change the sanitary pads often. Leaving one on for too long can foster bacterial and yeast growth, leading to itching. You should try to change the sanitary product after three or four hours. Using a menstrual cup can also help limit itching in the vagina.

Itching can also be due to a change in the pH level of the vulva during menstruation. If this is the case, a hydrocortisone cream can be used on the surface of the skin (but not inside the vagina). Avoid douching and using scented hygiene products in the intimate area. If the itching isn’t related to a particular irritant, a yeast or bacteria infection should be ruled out by your OB/GYN.

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2. Yeast Infection

A yeast infection (or vulvovaginal candidiasis) happens when the natural fungus Candida that lives in your vagina grows out of control. It’s more common to get a yeast infection before or during your period due to changes in the bacterial ecosystem of your vulva caused by hormone fluctuations and menstrual fluid.

If you suspect a yeast infection, there are some key signs to look out for: a burning or itching sensation in and around the vulva; a thicker and more sticky white discharge; and a bad smell down there. However, there are other conditions that can have symptoms that mimic those of a yeast infection, so it’s important to see your health care provider to know for sure what you’re dealing with.

Yeast infections can also be caused by irritants from certain menstrual products, such as sanitary pads and tampons that contain perfumes and dyes. Using them for too long or overnight can create a moist area that fosters the growth of bacteria and yeast.

You can use over-the-counter antifungal creams, ointments and suppositories to treat a yeast infection. But if the itching persists, see your doctor for more intensive treatment options. They may recommend a course of antibiotics to kill off any bacteria that’s growing, as well as a topical antifungal agent. Or they may suggest you switch to a less irritating menstrual product, such as a cup or organic cotton pads that don’t have fragrances and dyes.

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3. Trichomoniasis

If a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV) aren’t to blame, your itchiness could be caused by the parasite trichomonas. Trichomonas is a sexually transmitted infection that causes vaginitis, which is an inflammation of the vulva. It’s more common in women than men and can cause itching around the time of your period. It also makes it harder to get pregnant and can increase your risk of STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Getting a trichomonas infection can be prevented by always using condoms during sex and by wiping from front to back. You can also get a trichomonas test at most sexual health clinics, your GP or by visiting a doctor who specialises in vaginal problems. The test involves a swab of your vagina and a Potassium hydroxide preparation that allows the doctor to see the trichomonas if it’s present.

A change in hormones during your menstrual cycle can cause vaginal itching. It’s often more noticeable during the follicular phase which happens right before you get your period and when the levels of estrogen are lowest. Hormonal changes can also affect the pH balance of your vulva changing it to be more acidic which can make you itch. Itching can also be caused by psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that leads to red patches on the skin including in the vulva.

4. Bacterial Vaginosis

Women can experience bacterial vaginitis (BV) during their periods because of hormone changes that alter the levels of bacteria and yeast in the vagina. This imbalance can lead to itchiness of the vulva, vulva lips and vulva skin. It’s important to see your doctor if this occurs, as it could be an indicator of serious issues, like cystitis or even an STD.

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In addition to itching, BV can also cause a white or gray discharge with a fishy odor. This condition can be spread from person to person by sharing tampons or underwear, as well as using the same sex toys, especially when they are dirty. It can also be caused by too much douching and over-cleaning of the vulva.

The good news is, BV can be easily treated with antibiotics — either oral tablets or a gel or cream that goes directly into the vagina. Once the antibiotics are finished, BV will usually clear up within 2-3 days.

In general, it’s always best to avoid irritating the vulva with harsh soaps or abrasive wipes, if possible. Also, avoid tight-fitting pants or underwear and opt for ones made from lightweight, breathable materials. Also, wash your vulva with unscented products and try not to douche the area. Finally, change tampons and pads frequently to prevent them from leaving behind a moist, warm environment conducive to infection.

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