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Causes of Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy and Treatment Options

This blog explores the common causes of vaginal itching during pregnancy and provides tips for managing and treating it effectively. 

Introduction   

Experiencing vaginal itching during pregnancy is common and can be unsettling. Hormonal changes are a typical part of pregnancy. It can disturb the natural balance in the vagina, leading to dryness, sweating, and discomfort. High estrogen levels in pregnancy can also increase the risk of yeast infections, which show up with thick, white discharge.  

But it’s not just hormones; certain medications can make itching worse, too. It is crucial to distinguish between minor causes and severe ones, such as bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which may impact both mother and child. 

This blog explores the causes of vaginal itching during pregnancy and offers insights on recognizing and managing it. It aims to make the journey smoother through this transformative phase of life. 

Causes of Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy 

  • Bacterial Vaginosis: 

Vaginal itching during pregnancy can often be attributed to bacterial vaginosis, a condition arising from an imbalance in vaginal bacteria. This imbalance disrupts the natural harmony between good and bad bacteria in the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis often occurs in sexually active women but can also occur in pregnant individuals. 

Symptoms include a thin, grayish discharge, itching, burning, redness, and sometimes, a fishy odor, especially after intercourse. 

  • Vaginal Dryness: 

Some people may experience vaginal dryness during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those who are breastfeeding when they become pregnant may be more prone to this symptom. Vaginal dryness can lead to redness, irritation, and discomfort during sexual intercourse.  

Low progesterone, a hormone important for pregnancy, may cause vaginal dryness in some pregnant women. Experiencing this symptom is a sign to consult a doctor to ensure a healthy pregnancy. 

  • Increase in Vaginal Discharge: 

Throughout pregnancy, you may notice an increase in vaginal discharge and cervical mucus. This happens because of hormonal changes and the softening of the cervix and vaginal walls. Discharge is designed to keep the vagina healthy, but it can sometimes cause irritation, redness, and itching around the vulva. 

  •  Yeast Infection: 

Another common cause of vaginal itching during pregnancy is a yeast infection. Typically, the vagina maintains a delicate balance of yeast and bacteria. However, hormonal changes during pregnancy can upset this balance, leading to an overgrowth of yeast. Consequently, yeast infections become more prevalent during pregnancy.   

Yeast infection symptoms include itching, burning sensations, and thick, white discharge. Pregnant people with vaginal itching need to see a doctor for the right diagnosis and treatment. 

  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) During Pregnancy: 

During pregnancy, the growing uterus can press on the bladder, making it harder to empty completely. This increases the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Due to this pressure, pregnant women are more prone to UTIs. UTIs can also be caused by bacteria like group B strep (GBS), which doesn’t always show symptoms in adults but can be harmful to newborns.   

Common symptoms include frequent and urgent urination, belly pain, itching in the vaginal area, blood in urine, etc. Noticing these signs necessitates seeking proper care and treatment from a medical professional. 

Vaginal Itching Treatment During Pregnancy 

Vaginal itching during pregnancy is common and can be uncomfortable. But there are simple ways to soothe it. Here are some tips: 

  • Over-the-Counter Medications:  

These medications for vaginal itching are available at the local pharmacy. They include antifungal creams and ointments, suppositories, and topical medications. These OTC options can help manage vaginal itching, but it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying any new medication, especially during pregnancy. They can give you advice on the best treatment for your specific situation.  

  • Prescriptions for Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy   

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a topical antifungal medication for seven days to treat a yeast infection during pregnancy. If the infection is severe, your doctor may prescribe a stronger version. However, it’s important to note that oral antifungal medications are not recommended during pregnancy. 

  • Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching 

When it comes to easing vaginal itching at home, there are some simple remedies you can try. These won’t fix the root cause but can give you some relief: 

  • Cool it down: Apply a cold cloth to the area or take a cool bath. 
  • Coconut oil: Applying coconut oil to the itchy area can also help. Just avoid putting it inside your vagina. 
  • Probiotic foods: Consuming probiotic foods such as yogurt, miso, and kimchi is one way to avoid vaginal itching. 
  • Greek yoghurt: It is a typical home treatment that encourages the growth of good bacteria in the vagina. 

These home remedies are safe for mild itching, but it’s best to see your doctor if it persists or worsens. 

When Should I Be Worried About Vaginal Itching?  

If you’re dealing with vaginal itching during pregnancy and it’s not getting better with treatment, it’s a good idea to see your healthcare provider. Here are some indicators to keep an eye out for: 

  • If the itching comes back after you’ve already been treated.  
  • If your symptoms don’t improve or worsen after a few days of treatment. 
  • If you’re experiencing multiple vaginal infections during your pregnancy. 
  • If you notice new symptoms cropping up during or after treatment. 

Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if you’re unsure or worried about your symptoms. They can offer guidance and ensure you get the care you need. 

Preventing Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy 

Certain practices can help lower the chances of developing vaginal yeast infections and other causes of itching. Here are some helpful tips: 

  • Opt for breathable cotton underwear to keep things dry and comfortable. 
  • Choose fragrance-free soaps, bath products, and laundry detergents, and avoid feminine deodorants.   
  • Avoid sitting in wet bathing suits or sweaty underwear for too long. 
  • Only take antibiotics when necessary. 
  • Use protection during sex to prevent STIs. 
  • Skip the hot tubs and super-hot baths, as they can dry out the vaginal skin. 

By following these tips, you can help keep vaginal itching at bay during your pregnancy. 

When to Seek Medical Advice During Pregnancy 

Bringing up any discomfort or concerns with your doctor is important during pregnancy. If you’re experiencing vaginal itching that doesn’t improve with home remedies after a few days, it’s time to get it checked out. 

Be sure to see your doctor if the itching has other symptoms like pain or a strong-smelling discharge, as this could indicate an infection. Additionally, if you notice traces of blood in your discharge, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with your doctor for further evaluation. 

The bottom line 

Vaginal itching during pregnancy is often a result of hormonal changes, medication, or infections. While home remedies can relieve mild itching, it’s crucial to consult your healthcare provider if symptoms persist or worsen. Treatment may include over-the-counter or prescription medications based on your diagnosis. Maintaining good hygiene and being aware of triggers can support vaginal health during pregnancy. Discuss any concerns with your doctor to ensure a healthy pregnancy journey. Consider contacting clinics like the Well Women Clinic, best gynecologist specialist London for additional support and guidance. 

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