Do you have an itch that you just can’t scratch? (In public, that is.)
We’re talking, of course, about the delightful phenomenon that is vaginal itchiness, which can be especially worse around menstruation.
And just because you don’t see women adjusting their junk every five minutes like some men doesn’t mean that they aren’t itching up a storm.
So why are you itching like crazy when you’re on your period?
According to Dr Suzanne Fenske, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, there are a few specific factors that could cause this.
“One thing is that older blood that’s lingering can cause irritation,” she says. “So it depends on where you are in your cycle.”
Otherwise, it has to do with inflammation, she says.
“With your period, you tend to get higher levels of inflammation throughout the entire body, so those levels can cause you to have a little more itching,” Dr Fenske says. “It’s a histamine response.”
Of course, you could be experiencing a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV) – which is an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria, respectively – but Dr Fenske says most women don’t notice these problems as much on their periods. If you think your itchiness could be caused by a yeast infection or BV, check in with your doctor though.
“Your doctor can take cultures via a quick swab of the vagina even when you’re on your period,” Dr Fenske says. If the cultures are positive, she can prescribe you medication to get rid of the problem.
If it’s negative, though, and you’re looking for symptomatic relief, Dr Fenske warns to absolutely not douche, which could only make things worse. Instead, look for an over-the-counter steroid cream, like a 1% hyrdrocortisone cream, which is very low dose and safe to use for about three days until your symptoms clear up.
All areas of the vagina are subject to itchiness during your period, too. So if you notice your vulva feeling irritated, Dr Fenske says you want to make sure you’re not having an allergic reaction to a pad.
If you think that might be the case, try unscented pads to minimise a contact allergy. If it still doesn’t go away, check in with your doctor to find the culprit.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
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