Why Is My Vagina Itchy? Experts Explain
10 possible causes for your discomfort.
When you think of all the jobs that the vagina has to do, (like letting blood out of your body during your period, being a portal to pleasure, and oh yeah, birthing a baby, too), it’s no wonder that it can sometimes go on strike. And one of the ways that your lady parts will let you know that something is amiss is if it starts itching. But even if you know your body inside and out, it can still be a mystery why you feel the need to excessively scratch it. Turns out, there are actually multiple reasons why your vagina might be itchy.
Reasons why your vagina might be itchy
You probably don’t think twice when you give your head a quick scratch or rub your ribcage if you feel a twinge. But when it comes to your vagina, an itch can mean nothing — or a whole lot of something. If you’re wondering why your vagina needs a good scratch sometimes, these could be some reasons why, according to Dr. Faina Gelman-Nisanov, M.D., FACOG, a board-certified OB-GYN at North Jersey Gynecology Associates:
- Allergic reaction to underwear/clothing/condoms/lubricant/bath or shower product
- pH imbalance
- Yeast vaginitis
- Gardnerella vaginitis (bacterial vaginosis)
- Genital herpes outbreak
- Ureaplasma/Mycoplasma bacteria
- Low estrogen levels
- Inflammatory diseases
- Vulvar cancer
Why your vagina might feel itchy after sex
You’re lying in bed after a rowdy romp between the sheets, and instead of feeling exhilarated, you’re itchy. So what gives? “Vaginal dryness may contribute to itchiness, which can be alleviated by using a vaginal moisturizer like Replens that helps replenish vaginal moisture and alleviates discomfort,” Dr. Gil Weiss, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN and partner at Association for Women’s Healthcare and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital explains. “Infections (STIs) and latex allergies may also lead to postcoital itchiness.”
In some cases, you could be allergic to your partner’s semen or the condom. “A vagina could be itchy after sex due to the body’s response to seminal fluid or the condom,” explains Gelman-Nisanov. “If yeast or bacterial vaginitis is present, intercourse could exacerbate those symptoms.” If you continue to feel itchy, talk to your doctor to see what the cause of the itch is, since it could be a yeast infection, which is often accompanied by a discharge that smells.
Itchy vagina and your period: why it happens
You always know when your period is coming, not by the date on the calendar, but by your vagina’s reaction to its upcoming arrival. And what’s worse, your vagina might itch before, during, and even after your period, too. More often than not, hormones are to blame. “There is a drop in hormones before the period, during the period there is prolonged exposure to blood in the vagina, and after the period there is another change in hormones — this time an increase,” explains Gelman-Nisanov. “All of these can alter the pH of the vagina, and pH changes can result in vaginal itchiness and can exacerbate symptoms of already present yeast or BV.”
Why is the inside of my vagina itchy?
When you speak to your doctor and tell them, “My vagina is itchy,” you’ll need to be specific about the site of the itching. Your vagina is the muscular tube that’s connected to the cervix internally and extends outwards through the vulva vestibule (which is the area between the labia minora). “The inside of your vagina is lined by a mucus membrane,” explains Weiss. “The membrane secreting fluids that help keep vagina moist is also sensitive to infections or chemical irritants that can cause pruritis.” (Pruritis, FYI, is basically a medical term for itching.)
Why your vagina might feel itchy during pregnancy
For the most part, any problems that can plague your vagina when you’re not expecting can also occur during pregnancy, too. “All of the same reasons for why a woman has an itchy vaginal when not pregnant apply to when she is pregnant,” says Gelman-Nisanov. That means that allergic reactions to underwear, clothing, or bath products might occur, especially since your skin can be more sensitive during pregnancy. Infections like bacterial vaginosis, yeast vaginitis or ureaplasma and STIs (like chlamydia, herpes, or gonorrhea) can all make you want to scratch up a storm and make your vagina red or smelly. And hormones can also cause itching, says Geiss: “Hormonal changes can contribute to more mucous productions and change the normal pH of the vagina all contributing to pruritus.”
Why your vagina might feel itchy after masturbating
Masturbation can bring a whole lot of pleasure — and in some instances, unwanted side effects. “Masturbation may involve a lot of friction in the pubic area which may lead to lots of skin irritation,” says Geiss. More often than not, it should go away on its own. Still, going a little slower can help, and make sure that you’re not accidentally scratching yourself with your fingernails, which can cause tiny tears and itching.
And if you’re using sex toys (like a dildo or vibrator), wash them before inserting them into your vagina. “The vagina can be itchy after masturbation if toys were used that were not properly cleaned/stored,” advises Gelman-Nisanov.
Why your vagina feels itchy after shaving
While you might be shaving your vulva (which encompasses all the external genitalia like your mons pubis, and labia majora and minora), it’s highly unlikely that you’re shaving the inside of your vagina — nor should you. “The vagina itself should not be itchy after shaving, because shaving is an external activity,” Gelman-Nisanov agrees. “But if shaving lotions/creams enter the vaginal introitus, they can irritate the vagina causing itching.” When your pubic hair regrows on your vulva after shaving, then yes, there might be itching on the outer skin. “The hair follicles continue to grow under the skin after your shave and the follicles can then irritate your skin,” adds Geiss. “The hair that grows in the pubic area is particularly thicker, which can make the itchiness worse.”
Having an itchy vagina is never pleasant and the reasons for it can run the gamut from an allergic reaction to hormonal changes. If your vagina continues to feel itchy, speak with your doctor to uncover the cause. That way, the only itch you’ll need to scratch is for some sexy time — and not something icky like an infection.
Nguyen, J., Duong, H. (2022) Anatomy, Abdomen, and Pelvis, Female External Genitalia, StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547703/
Yeung, J., Pauls, R. (2016) Anatomy of the Vulva and the Female Sexual Response, Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America., https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26880506/
Dr. Faina Gelman-Nisanov, M.D., FACOG, a board-certified OB-GYN at North Jersey Gynecology Associates
Dr. Gil Weiss, M.D., a board-certified OB-GYN and partner at Association for Women’s Healthcare and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital