Vaginal itching and irritation can be a sexual health issue that affects many women at different ages during a woman’s life. This itching or discomfort can be felt inside or outside near the lips of the vagina. There are several chemical reasons that can cause the irritation including strong washing detergents or fabric softeners used to wash clothing. It is also important to consider types of soaps or bubble baths, feminine sprays, ointments, creams or douches used to freshen up your vaginal area, as many can be harsh and irritate the skin. Contraceptive foams or jellies, or specific types of condoms used during sexual foreplay or intercourse may also be the culprit. Vaginal tissue is very sensitive and so you need to consider what types of chemicals you are using. If you suddenly develop itching it might be due to a change in one of these products.
There are vaginal infections that can be quite common such as candida or “yeast” infections, bacterial vaginosis or BV, viral vaginitis, Trichomoniasis vaginitis or Chlamydia vaginitis. Only Trichomoniasis vaginitis and Chlamydia vaginitis are considered sexually transmitted diseases. Our vagina is one of the most acidic environments in the body. The reason the vagina is acidic is to kill and prevent microorganisms from getting to a women’s reproductive system. The acidity acts as a first line of defense for a women’s body. There are many things that can bring on an infection like birth control pills, menstruation, and pregnancy, because of their impact on women’s hormones. Chemical irritants, especially ones used during intercourse or toys can introduce microorganisms into the vagina. Stress, (yes you read it correctly, stress), causes a weakening of the immune system which makes the body more susceptible to infections including the vaginal infections. Any sickness or illness that weakens the entire immune system including diseases like diabetes can cause infections too.
The challenge with vaginal infections is that they can be difficult to identify and most women may only know about candida and then just treat for the wrong infection.