There are many reasons why women can get vaginal itching, ranging from acute to chronic – all of which should be looked into, and treated holistically. Not just because it is uncomfortable and can make you feel embarrassed should you need to itch down there in public, but because if left untreated serious permanent damage could be done.
Let’s explore the most common causes of Vaginal Itching:
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – The cause of Bacterial Vaginosis is simply down to an imbalance of naturally occurring good bacteria in the vagina. The vagina should have a certain amount of lactobacilli (lactic acid bacteria), which makes the vagina slightly acidic and prevents other negative types of bacteria from growing in the area. Another way to know if you have BV is because as well as having vaginal itching, this problem can also be accompanied by abnormal discharge and an unpleasant, fishy type smell coming from the vagina. The type of discharge usually associated with Bacterial Vaginosis is watery and white or grey in colour. For some women though, the condition is symptomless. It should be noted that if you have Bacterial Vaginosis you are at an increased risk of getting a Sexually Transmitted Illness (STI), and also premature births among pregnant women. Remember that if you have the condition it doesn’t mean you are dirty or unclean which some people often think. In fact, washing the area too much can infact make the problem worse.
- Yeast infection (Thrush) – This is a fungal infection from any of the Candida species. The most common type being Candida Albicans. Candidiasis can go alongside other infections that range from superficial, such as oral thrush and vaginitis, to systemic and potentially life-threatening diseases. Yeast infections are generally not considered to be sexually transmitted diseases, but they can be transmitted from person to person. Although, far more than not, they are caused by hormonal imbalances, dietary issues and/or other problems that make a woman more susceptible to yeast overgrowth.
- Pregnancy – Pregnant women often experience itching in their vaginal regions during pregnancy. Most cases of vaginal itching during pregnancy is caused by topical irritation brought about by the change in the vaginal pH level due to hormonal changes, but it should be noted that it could also be a sign of a serious infection that requires urgent treatment. Small amounts of yeast are found in all healthy vaginas, and it is harmless in these quantities. It is when this fungal species (yeast) is provided the right kind of conditions to multiply that it causes problems, and infection. When this type of yeast increases, it can then cause itching and irritation. Aside from yeast infections, vaginal itching during pregnancy could also be a sign of a serious condition such as an STD or an STI.
- Trichomoniasis – Just like Bacterial Vaginosis, Trichomoniasis also causes a change in vaginal discharge along with a strong vaginal odour and vaginal itching. Unlike bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, it is usually caught through having intercourse with someone who already has it. It is interesting to know that it rarely causes any symptoms in men.
- Parasitic Type of STD Infections / Parasites of the Pubic Hair – Lice (otherwise known as crabs) and scabies can cause immense itching of the vaginal region, and are the most common of these types of STD’s. Generally, these are also passed on through sexual intercourse. People with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to getting them.
- Molluscum Contagiosum – Molluscum Contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection that affects the skin, causing itching. It shows itself on the skin, including the pubic area, with itchy little lumps or bumps which can look like warts. It is highly contagious and easily spread so seek treatment immediately if you have this.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) – Chlamydia specifically is one type of STD that is known to cause vaginal itching. So, be sure to get this and other STD’s ruled out by visiting your doctor and getting tested. Especially as STD’s are easily passed on through sex and you could be passing it on unknowingly.
- Vaginal Dryness – A healthy vagina should naturally have a thin layer of clear fluid on the walls of the vagina to help keep it moist and lubricated, and to reduce any chances of vaginal dryness and itching. Over washing, or washing with soaps that are not the right pH for the vagina can be a cause of this. Another possible cause of vaginal dryness is that it could mean you have gone into menopause. During the menopause the hormone oestrogen starts to naturally drop. One of oestrogens many roles is to help maintain the fluid levels of the vagina and keep the lining of the vagina healthy, thick, and elastic. So, a drop in oestrogen will reduce the amount of moisture available and will cause dryness, which in turn can cause itching. This can also makes the vagina thinner and less elastic, which is called vaginal atrophy.
- Vaginitis – This term simply refers to all types of inflammation of the vagina. Some types of vaginitis include; Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), Vaginal Candidiasis, and Trichomoniasis – all of which we have covered above.
If you are concerned that one of the above may be causing your vaginal itching then make an appointment with your naturopath, nutritionist or doctor to discuss your concerns and holistic treatment plan.