It’s not uncommon to experience vaginal itching around the time of menstruation. There are several causes for this: vaginal dryness, yeast infection or simply hormonal changes. No matter what the cause, vaginal dryness can be extremely uncomfortable.
In this post we’ll discuss tips to soothe vaginal itching before, during or after your period. We’ll talk about:
- Natural remedies that can be used in this sensitive area – such as coconut oil, Manuka honey or essential oils
- The use of a vaginal moisturizer
- The benefits of reusables, such as the menstrual cup or cotton pads
- The importance of diet and the intake of probiotics
- Other tips to stop vaginal itching
Why does your vagina itch before or after your period?
There’re many changes that occur in the uterus and vagina during the cycle. There can also be changes in the vaginal mucosa that are associated with changes in the hormones. Around the time of period when the hormone levels are low, the vagina may be drier than usual. The same thing can happen with menopause.
The culprit behind dryness is declining estrogen levels. Vaginal tissue has estrogen receptors. As estrogen levels decline, the tissue can get dry and irritated. When it’s the end of menstruation, there’s less moisture that was provided by the flow and this is why the vagina can be very itchy. Within days itching should go away. If it doesn’t, the cause of itch may be some kinds of infection or inflammation.
Around the time of menstruation, many women are prone to yeast infections. Women’s internal parts have yeast which is normal and healthy. But sometimes there’s an over growth of yeast. When the normal acidity of the vagina changes, you are more prone to get a vaginal infection. Menstruation, pregnancy, douche products (chemical-based), diabetes, some antibiotics, birth control pills and steroids, can actually affect the acidity of your vagina.
Can a yeast infection cause itching?
If you experience white, thick, clumpy discharge (looking like cottage cheese), this may be a sign of vaginal infection. A yeast infection usually does not cause a strong odor. But it may cause severe itching and burning.
Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and Sexual Transmitted Diseases can all contribute to vaginal itching. Genital herpes can also cause itching.
Always consult your doctor to ensure you get an accurate diagnosis especially if you experience abnormal vaginal discharge before, during or after your period. Abnormal signs include unpleasant odor, blisters on vagina, burning during urination or if the itch that does not go away.
Your doctor will examine your vagina and other reproductive organs, and a sample of vaginal discharge may be collected to determine your problem.
What can you do to avoid vaginal itching before, during or after menstruation?
- Keep genital area clean by using plain, unscented and natural soap to help with vaginal itching.
- To prevent a yeast infection during period, use a detachable shower head and spray down there in the shower to keep the area clean.
- It’s important to resist itching to prevent the infection from spreading.
- Use a high-quality and organic vaginal lubricant. Check out this post on the most recommended natural lubricants.
About personal lubricants
Using a personal lubricant helps ease the itchy feeling if this is due to dryness of vagina. Choosing a high-quality vaginal lubricant is often all that is needed to restore vaginal moisture.
I recommend one of these high-quality natural lubricants:
- Probiotic All Natural Personal Lubricant (by Organic Glide)
- Organic Vaginal Health Moisturizer & Personal Lubricant (by BeeFriendly)
- Vulva Harmony – Vaginal Moisturizer (by Bloom Krans)
Also read this post to learn more about vaginal moisturizers to reduce itchiness in the vaginal area.
Try some home remedies to soothe vaginal itching
Organic coconut oil can help with vaginal itching. It contains natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and is suitable to use in this delicate region. Coconut oil is one of the best remedies for vaginal dryness. I personally use the brand Nutiva, but there are other great brands.
You can also incorporate coconut oil into your diet. Read this post about the best antifungal foods. You’ll discover that coconut oil is a potent candida killer and helps fight yeast infection.
Learn how to use coconut oil to relieve symptoms of dryness: Coconut Oil for Vaginal Dryness (It’s Natural & really effective)
Some people have good results when they add tea tree essential oil to coconut oil. However, tea tree oil is a very potent oil, so be careful to start out with only a couple drops and repeat as necessary, adding more drops as needed.
Palma rosa and thyme essential oils can also be used. Here’s a recipe for vaginal itching relief that uses these essential oils. It will help you get rid of vaginal itching naturally!
In cases of vaginal yeast infection where there is intense itching, consider using Manuka honey which has a higher antibacterial strength than most honeys. You’ll find more information about Manuka honey here.
Baking Soda Bath
After your period take a baking soda bath. Add one cup of baking soda to bathwater and soak for 30 minutes. It helps with vaginal itching.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the top home remedies for vaginal itching due to its antibacterial properties. It really helps the body fight against bad bacteria. It also keeps the natural pH balance of the vagina and can help prevent yeast infection. Yeast cannot thrive in the lower pH of the vagina.
How to use it? Add one tablespoon of organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water. Drink it twice a day for a few days.
Use reusable cloth pads or a menstrual cup to avoid itchy vagina
Why should you Avoid Pads and tampons?
Most disposable pads and tampons contain all kinds of chemicals that may irritate skin and cause vaginal itching. Some women’s skin is very sensitive. It’s also best to avoid chemicals next to one of the most sensitive parts of the body…
A 2005 study in the Journal of Women’s Health found that seven brands of tampons had measurable levels of dioxin. Besides being a carcinogen, dioxin has been shown to induce endometriosis in an animal study with monkeys.
If you want to use disposable pads, use only hypoallergenic organic disposable cotton pads. Avoid tampons because they may also create a more ideal opportunity for the growth of bacteria. They can dry out the vaginal canal by absorbing its natural moisture.
Why choose Reusable cotton pads?
By choosing to use reusables you are no longer exposing yourself to the potentially harmful chemicals and synthetic materials found in most disposable pads and tampons!
If you’re prone to infections, they’re a great option. Many women report decreased infections after making the switch. It’s probably due to the fact that the disposables they are using have caused irritation which exacerbates any predisposition.
Although reusables are an initial investment, they pay off over time: many women report saving over $500 in just a few years.
Reusables are also environmentally friendly. It’s estimated that approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are being sent to North American landfills annually. These products require hundreds of years to biodegrade, particularly if wrapped in the plastic bag commonly provided for this purpose as part of their packaging!
You can buy reusable and washable menstrual pads here. They are made of bamboo charcoal, which is super absorbent. It naturally neutralizes odors and it’s hypoallergenic making it perfect for sensitive skin.
The menstrual cup is a great alternative to cloth menstrual pads.
If you don’t know what a menstrual cup is, let’s explain briefly what it’s about. A menstrual cup is usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell and is flexible. It’s worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid.
It sounds medieval and frightening, but this thing can change your periods forever and stop vaginal dryness!
The one caveat is if you use a menstrual cup or cotton reusable pads during a yeast infection, you’ll want to take extra care to sanitize the product so it doesn’t continue the infection.
If you want to try a menstrual cup, I recommend these brands:
Check out this post to learn more about reusables: What are the best natural alternatives to tampons & pads?
Avoid synthetic fabrics and wear cotton underwear
Cotton and silk underwear absorb moisture while keeping you dry. On the contrary, nylon and other synthetic fabrics hold moisture close to your skin and encourage the growth of yeast.
Before, during and after your period, avoid tight clothing that can cause heat and moisture to build up in the crotch area – like leggings or snug-fitting pijamas. Loose clothing is preferable.
Warm, moist environments are a breeding ground for itch-causing yeast!
Also, going without underwear while you sleep will help keep your genital area dry and discourage yeast growth.
Eat probiotics and avoid foods that feed the bad yeast!
In case of vaginal infection, making dietary changes is paramount. You should eat antifungal foods as explained in this post.
It’s strongly recommended that you increase your intake of probiotic-rich foods – such as kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi.
Probiotics are live microorganisms. They are commonly known as friendly bacteria. Why are they so important?
Because they promote a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system. In the gut, friendly bacteria help maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining and emerging evidence suggests they also boost immunity.
Good bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, also play an important role as part of the local immune system in the vaginal area. Probiotics help maintain an acidic pH in the vagina, which makes it less likely that an overgrowth of yeast will occur.
Clinical trials have shown that two species of Lactobacillus in particular – L. rhamnosus (GR-1) and L. reuteri (RC-14) – are especially effective at establishing and maintaining healthy vaginal microflora when consumed orally daily. (source)
In addition, it’s best to reduce sugar, bread, pastries, milk, cheese, alcohol and all kinds of packaged and processed foods. There’s some evidence that these kinds of foods promote the growth of candida. In this post, you’ll learn about the anti-candida diet.
If you aren’t getting enough probiotics from your diet, consider taking a probiotic supplement on a regular basis.
Not sure if you should take probiotics? Find out why they are so important for women’s health & learn about probiotic-rich foods on this page: Best Probiotics for Women
Should you avoid douching?
Douching is a method to wash out the vagina. A mixture of water and vinegar is sprayed into the vagina through a tube.
Be careful with douching as it can worsen vaginal dryness.
Douching upsets the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina (called vaginal flora). These changes make the environment more favorable for the growth of bacteria that cause infection.
Studies have found that women who stopped douching were less likely to have bacterial vaginosis.
Because there are no demonstrated benefits to douching and considerable evidence of harm, women should be encouraged to not douche.(source) Also, douches that are sold in supermarkets often contain fragrances and chemicals.
There are lots of simple ways to prevent and reduce vaginal itching.
The most important things to remember are:
- Avoid scented perfumes, lotions, or soaps that come in contact with your vagina—they contain potential chemical irritants.
- Switch to fragrance-free organic products and try natural remedies such as organic coconut oil.
- Consider using cotton pads or a menstrual cup during menstruation.
- Don’t douche because you don’t want to send bacteria from your vagina up into your uterus!
- Wear cotton underwear and loose bottoms for better air circulation.
- Take probiotics and limit refined carbohydrates!
Here is an infographic that outlines the steps to stop vaginal itching. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below! Also watch the video below with Dr. Adelaide Nardone, Board Certified Gynecologist, who explains the possible causes of vaginal itching: