How to Tackle 5 Causes of Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy
If your vagina becomes irritated, itchy or swollen during pregnancy, this is because of some kind of irritation–a common problem. However, there are multiple causes of such irritation, so tackling this annoying symptom and getting some relief will depend on accurately identifying the source.
- Increased discharge
Firstly, the increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy can lead to skin irritation, and particularly to itching around the vulva. If the discharge is clear or white and doesn’t have an offensive smell, it’s simply a response to pregnancy hormones. You may be able to reduce the itching or discomfort around your vagina by switching to shower gels and soaps deliberately designed for sensitive skin, and some women find that the discomfort eases later in pregnancy.
- Yeast infections
Yeast infections develop when a fungus that naturally lives in the vagina begins to overgrow. This is more common during pregnancy because your changing hormones create an environment that better supports yeast reproduction. Look out for swelling around the vagina, as well as itching, discomfort during sex, and a thick discharge that smells vaguely like bread. It’s generally safe to use over-the-counter creams or oral treatments for yeast infectionsbut it’s better to err on the side of caution and talk to your doctor before using these products during pregnancy.
- Bacterial vaginosis
An estimated 1 in 5 pregnant women develop bacterial vaginosis, which is an infection associated with an overgrowth of some of the bacteria that naturally live in the vagina. In addition to persistent itching, you’ll probably notice thin, grey discharge and may experience pain during urination. While this type of infection is usually self-limiting, your doctor may want to prescribe antibiotics (though this is more likely if you’re in your second trimester).
- Urinary tract infections
Although the main symptoms of a urinary tract infection are pain during urination, abdominal cramping and a constant urge to urinate, vaginal itching can also be involved. Since urinary tract infections can progress to more dangerous kidney infections, it’s important to have your doctor dipstick your urine and provide antibiotic treatment if necessary. Drinking cranberry juice may also be helpful, as is staying hydrated more generally.
- Product-induced irritation
You may also be irritated by some type of soap or lotion that you’re using, even if you didn’t used to be allergic to this product–sometimes, your skin becomes more sensitive in response to changing hormones. If you suspect one of your personal care products is playing a role, switch to something bland and unscented. As mentioned above regarding discharge, creams and soaps designed for sensitive skin are particularly good choices. You should notice a difference within a few days if your irritation was induced by previous products.
If you experience vaginal itching for more than just a few days, you should talk to your doctor (especially if you’re also concerned about a change in discharge). In most cases, the causes is easily identifiable and the above solutions will quickly restore your comfort.