Why Does Your Vagina Itch in Pregnancy? How to Cope?

The symptoms of pregnancy can sometimes go far beyond morning sickness and feeling tired. There are a few that can really put a damper on the joys of pregnancy. While you were only expecting a sore back, swollen feet or going to the bathroom every minute, vaginal itching can be a side-effect of pregnancy that can really make you uncomfortable. It is important to get checked since it could be something more serious, like an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease).

What Causes Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy?

You may think that morning sickness and nausea are the most common symptoms of pregnancy, vaginal itching is actually just as common.

Common Causes Which Are Not Serious

  • One of the reasons this happens is that your body requires more fluids during pregnancy. This can cause the vaginal tissues to be drier than usual. This can lead to itching and even soreness and you may find if you scratch, it gets worse.
  • Another cause is excessive sweat that can collect in the crevices around the vulva, creases of the legs and entrance to the vagina. Warm moist areas can get irritated easily and cause itching.
  • Certain products that you normally use on a daily basis may upset your vaginal area during pregnancy. Things like soaps with perfumes, fabric softener, laundry detergent, condoms and douches are harsh on the vagina during pregnancy since the tissue is more sensitive. Try switching to fragrance-free versions for now.

Here are a few other causes of vaginal itching during pregnancy:

1. Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacteria normally live in the vaginal area to help keep it healthy. Sometimes, the wrong bacteria gets in and causes an infection. Along with itching, you will also have soreness, inflammation, foul-smelling discharge and burning. This needs to be treated by a physician, so if you have these symptoms see your doctor.

2. Yeast Infection (Vaginal Candidiasis)

Yeast is actually a pretty normal part of our bodies. When our immune system is compromised or weaker, Candida tends to become overgrown and can cause a yeast infection. While this is a very normal occurrence for any woman, we tend to be more susceptible during pregnancy. The symptoms include intense itching, cottage cheese like discharge, yeasty odor and soreness.

3. Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Herpes and Trichomoniasis are all sexually transmitted diseases that can cause vaginal itching. They can also cause a foul-smelling discharge, irritation and soreness so see your doctor if you have symptoms to rule out STD. They need to be treated promptly. 

4Urinary Tract Infection

Vaginal itching can be one of the first signs of a UTI during pregnancy and is quite common. The usual offender is the E-Coli strain of bacteria and can cause itching and burning with urination. Some of these are self-limiting and can be taken care of with cranberry juice and yogurt added to the diet. However, if you experience fever and chills with the above symptoms, you may need antibiotic treatment so see your doctor.

5. Pediculosis (Crab Lice)

If you only have itching around the pubic hair, it may be a case of crab lice (pediculosis). You can easily catch these in public areas or via sexual transmission. They tend to be very contagious so you can get them anywhere. They will need to be treated by a doctor, as well as thorough decontamination of bedding and clothing. Check with your doctor before using any chemical lice preparation.

How to Deal with Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy

1.  A Cool Rag

Try holding a cool rag or towel up against the vaginal area. Do not use hot water on the rag or it could further irritate the tissue. Switch to cool showers and not hot to keep from raising the body temperature. Hot water is very hard on sensitive skin and tissues.

2.  Adding Yogurt to Your Diet

Eating yogurt is good for your health and helps to keep the body’s pH level balanced. Try to buy unsweetened and low-fat yogurt if you can and the Greek variety seems to balance pH the best.

3.  Baking Soda

You can either make a baking soda paste or add it to your bath water. Soak the area for 10 to 15 minutes to help relieve inflammation and itching. If you apply the paste to your bottom area, make sure to rinse with cool water. This will also help relieve itching to the abdomen as it stretches.

4.  Loosening Up Your Clothing

You won’t fit into those tight jeans your entire pregnancy or non-maternity underwear. If you have a lot of itching and your clothes are getting tight, it may be time for a shopping trip for maternity clothes. Do not wear any materials with lycra or spandex as they can trap moisture in close to the skin.

5.  Proper Underwear

Time to ditch the thong underwear and invest in some good cotton maternity underwear. Any materials other than cotton can trap moisture and constrict causing itching. Here is the fun part, try going without your underwear/commando style at night when you are sleeping. This will help “air” the vaginal area during the night.

6.  Using Mild Products

Use mild soaps, shampoos, laundry detergents and skip the bubble baths for now. You can use vinegar as a fabric softener as a natural alternative and leave out the harsh vaginal washes during pregnancy. The fragrances and chemicals can make the problem worse.

7.  Anti-Itch Cream

In a pinch, you can try to find an anti-itch cream over-the-counter that does not contain any medications that would be harmful to your baby. Stay away from anything containing hydrocortisone as it can make the problem worse and not good for your body if used in large amounts.

8.  Personal Wipes

For a quick refresh during the day, you can try a personal wipe after using the restroom or during the day to relieve itching. Wipes that contain witch hazel are all-natural, cooling and bring quick relief.

9.  Cornstarch

You can dab a bit of cornstarch or cornstarch based powder in the area to help keep you dry or sprinkle some in your underwear. This can help keep the area cool and dry. Remember to use any non-scented powders or straight cornstarch to avoid fragrances.

10.  Always Keep Clean and Dry

Keep your vaginal area clean and dry. Change underwear a few times daily to keep discharge away. If you have intercourse, clean up well afterwards since semen can cause irritation.Try adding a little vinegar when bathing to help balance the pH near the vagina. Don’t use vinegar too often or it can throw off the pH as well.

Important Notes:

Any persistent vaginal itching that you cannot bring under control with the above home remedies, or if you develop a fever or chills needs to be evaluated and treated by your doctor. You may need antibiotics for a bacterial infection or an anti-fungal cream for a yeast infection.

What Other Moms Say About Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy

“It is right around my 5th week of pregnancy and this is my third baby. In my last pregnancy, I had severe vaginal itching but not with my first baby. I thought maybe I would be spared this time, but the itching returned. It seems pretty normal and I don’t have any other symptoms of infection. My doctor told me it is just changes in my pH levels. My last pregnancy, I used copious amounts of baking soda in the bathtub. I also used a feminine anti-itch preparation. The midwife I am using suggested to change my diet to reduce the acid in my system.”

More explanation from the expert about causes of vaginal itching during pregnancy: