We love our vaginas, but sometimes they can be annoying. Literally — vaginas get so itchy sometimes it can actually get in the way of going about our regular business. We’ve all been there, so don’t feel embarrassed. There are all kinds of reasons why a vagina might be itchy, like you’ve just recently shaved, you’re using the wrong products down there, or you have some kind of infection. The first thing you want to do is a little self-checklist and figure about why your vagina might be itchy. Your vagina might be swollen, burning, and itchy for any number of reasons.
If you have thick, textured discharge, and an itchy-burny situation going on,it could be a yeast infection. If you have any doubts, go see a doctor, because studies show that only around 34 percent of women correctly self-diagnose a yeast infection.
Another potential reason your vag is itchy is because you have bacterial vaginosis (BV), which has symptoms similar to a yeast infection, but it’s much more common. The symptoms of BV, which just means that there’s an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, are a thin, grey discharge, a fishy odor, and a burning and itchy sensation in and/or outside of the vagina. The symptoms pass within days or a week, but if they persist, check with a doctor. It could also be an STI, so make sure you’re getting tested on the regular if you’re sexually active.
But first, here’s what NOT to do.
There is a longstanding myth that soaking a tampon with yogurt, apple cider vinegar, or coconut oil will relieve itching and burning in the vagina. This isnot medically recommended, though, as it could make things worse or cause you to have an allergic reaction. The yogurt idea comes from people wanting to balance out the lactobacilli cultures in the vagina to cure a yeast infection — but yogurts don’t contain the same strain of lactobacilli found in the vagina, if they even contain lactobacilli at all.
Likewise, the “natural garlic cure” for a yeast infection can also be dangerous. So don’t, under any circumstances, stick a tampon soaked with anything up your vag or start rubbing garlic all up in your business. We beg of you.
Okay — here are some natural things you can actually do about your itchy vag.
1. Drink *good* bacteria
Although you don’t want to put yogurt inside your vagina, balancing out your pH is something you should just do in general. This isn’t going to stop your vagina from itching *right this minute* but over time you can prevent getting a mildly itchy vagina after having a lot of sex or when you’re traveling and your whole body and immune system is off kilter.
If you like yogurt, good for you. You can eat yogurt with lactobacillus or add kefir to your diet. If you can’t get the stuff down, ask your doctor about a probiotic supplement. This is just a good preventative measure for itchy vaginas.
2. Check your products
We love a good Target run as much as the next person, but skin (especially in our nether regions) is sensitive and changes over time. If the skin around or in your vaginal canal is itchy, try eliminating that amazing scented bodywash you just picked up or a new laundry detergent you decided to try.
We all use tons of products for different things. You can stick to certain products for the rest of your body and have a simple, unscented soap to rinse off down there. You actually don’t need to clean your vagina or vulva everyday, and following that rule might make your itchiness goes away surprisingly quickly.
3. Check your closet
Leggings and skinny jeans are a girl’s best friend, but if you’re spending a lot of time in too-tight pants, you could be locking in unnecessary moisture and throwing the whole ecosystem off down below. Make sure after a long workout you’re changing out of your sweaty yoga pants and put on a pair of underwear made with a breathable fabric. Your vagina needs to breath, too.
4. Take a nice, relaxing bath
If you’re super itchy down there, taking a bath with oatmeal is a good way to ease the itch. You can also add some apple cider vinegar or lavender oil to the water to naturally get rid of any itch-causing bacteria.
5. Stop cleaning your vagina
There is absolutely no reason to be douching or doing any hardcore scrubbing down there. The idea that you need to douche or strip your vagina of its natural, personalized smell could be exactly why you’re vagina it itching and burning. Vaginas are self-cleaning and they need a proper balance of bacteria to be healthy. Vaginal discharge is actually part of how your vagina does this.
“Feminine odor” is something you should be looking for — as long as it’s not fishy or foul, which can be a sign of BV or an STD. You want your vagina to smell like a vagina, so don’t spray or scrub your vagina with anything. A lot of the recommendations about “clean” vaginas come from a time when people didn’t know much about vaginas at all. You should be proud of the way your vagina looks and smells. Even if it’s itchy AF at the moment.
If your vagina is itchy beyond belief, it might have to do with your overall health, so talk to your doctor or OB-GYN. And please, for the love of all that is pink and sparkly, don’t put yogurt or garlic in your hoo-ha.