Many have dealt with vaginal itching at some point in their lives—and calling it unpleasant would be an understatement. It’s incredibly uncomfortable to experience. What makes things worse is that you may not know why it’s happening.Vaginal itching has a diverse range of causes, from something as manageable as needing to swap out your body wash, to something more pressing, like a sexually transmitted infection. Whatever the cause, relief from vaginal itching is essential and thankfully often a viable option.
That’s why even if you think you might know the cause of the itch, “it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor so you can treat it accordingly,” says Jill Krapf M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN at the Center for Vulvovaginal Disorders in Washington.
In most cases, vaginal itching isn’t a cause for major concern—itchy genitals can be caused by skin irritations or allergies that can clear up on their own if the irritants are removed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
If you’re experiencing some itchy discomfort down there and are looking to find out more about what’s happening, our experts can help. Ahead, find the most common reasons why your vagina is itchy and expert-approved solutions that can provide relief.
What Causes Vaginal Itching?
Itchy genitals can be a symptom of many conditions. Here are six of the most common reasons you might be experiencing an itchy vagina and how to treat each.
“One of the most common problems women typically jump to when they have itching is a vaginal yeast infection,” says Dr. Williams. After all, the majority of women—about 75 %—will experience at least one yeast infection during their lifetime.
A yeast infection is exactly what it sounds like: there’s yeast growing in your vagina where it shouldn’t be, which can cause a lot of discomfort. “It’s a living organism that causes the infection,” says Dr. Williams. “This causes an inflammation of the vaginal tissue, which is what causes all the symptoms.” Aside from itching, other yeast infection symptoms include having a thick, white, curd-like discharge and experiencing a burning sensation when you pee.
How to treat a yeast infection: Luckily, there are plenty of over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections (like Monistat) that can be taken as a vaginal cream or suppository. The key here is paying attention to whether the treatment is actually working. “If symptoms do not resolve after initial treatment, it is important to see a doctor,” advises Dr. Krapf.
“This sounds a lot scarier than it is because bacterial vaginosis isn’t truly an infection,” says Dr. Williams. “It happens when the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina gets thrown off, so there’s an overgrowth of a certain type of bacteria that causes all the symptoms that a woman may have,” she explains.
If you have some itching, but you’re not experiencing any of those discharge-related symptoms associated with something like a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis, it might be worth asking: What have I changed in my hygiene or clothing routine lately?