There’s more than one reason your vulva might itch after sex. But before you Google your way into a fix, check with your doctor or a sexual health clinic.
Many women are sensitive to scented soaps, detergents or even sanitary pads. They may also be allergic to a certain irritant like latex or sperm.
1. Changes in pH
Itching after sex can be caused by changes in pH that disrupt your normal microbiome and allow unfriendly bacteria to grow. This can lead to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Your body’s typical acidity, or pH balance, is between 3.8 and 4.5. Sex, especially with multiple partners, can throw off this balance and create an environment that allows Gardnerella bacteria to overgrow, leading to BV. Symptoms can include grayish-looking, fishy-smelling vaginal discharge and itching.
A change in hormones due to pregnancy, menopause or birth control pills can also affect your pH levels and make you more susceptible to bacterial infections. Using feminine hygiene products like scented tampons and pads, or even bath soap with fragrances can also cause itching in the area.
Lastly, an allergy to semen can cause itching in the vulva and other parts of the body that come into contact with semen. This can be a serious allergic reaction that requires medical attention. Typically, doctors will recommend applying an over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% cream to the area and taking an oral antihistamine.
If you’ve been experiencing an itchy vaginal opening after sex, it could be a sign of an infection. STIs like trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes can lead to inflammation in the vulva. The symptoms may include a cheesy, yellow or green discharge, swelling and reddened skin. If you suspect an STI, make sure to see your gyno and get a prescription for antibiotics right away. And make sure to stick with regular STI screenings, too.
A yeast infection can also cause itching, stinging and burning in the vulva. Sexual intercourse can throw off the natural balance of your bacteria, which can allow the yeast to overgrow. Yeast infections can also be made worse by certain chemicals in feminine hygiene products, lubricants and perfumes, as well as by consuming dairy or alcohol.
Itching can also be a symptom of a dermatological condition, including eczema, psoriasis or jock itch (ringworm in the groin). If you think this might be the culprit, talk to your doctor. Inflammation from these conditions can also cause a rash around the vulva, but you can often treat it with over-the-counter meds.
Millions of women suffer from itching around the vulva and labia. This can destroy a woman’s intimacy and confidence. Itching can be caused by a number of things, such as irritation, infection or an allergy to certain products. For example, some people are allergic to scented soaps, lotions or toilet paper. These allergies can also cause dry skin. If you’re using scented products near the vulva and itching, stop them right away and see your healthcare provider for advice.
Infections can also cause itching around the genital area, including yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis. Pubic lice and scabies can also be spread through sexual contact and may cause itching in the genital area. Some STDs can also cause itching, especially if they’re mixed with bumps, sores, or an unusual smell. Mild itching after sex can usually be treated at home, but anyone who’s experiencing itching that’s accompanied by a rash, sores or a change in the color or amount of discharge should see their doctor for treatment. Latex allergy symptoms can also lead to itching, so try switching to a lubricant without latex if you have a latex allergy.
Itching in the vulva after sex can be an early symptom of STIs like trichomonasis, chlamydia, or herpes. It’s always a good idea to get regularly tested if you have a partner and can afford it—not just so you know whether itching is your first sign of an infection but also to prevent any complications down the line.
Dryness can trigger itching down there as well. So make sure to use pH-balanced cleansers (like this one from BioFemme) after doing the deed and avoid scented products in the intimate area. And if it’s really dry, try using a natural lubricant like ours during sexual intercourse.
Yeast infections can cause itching as well, and you should be on the lookout for signs of an infection such as white pustules, a tarry discharge, or thick clumps of yeast that smell foul. You can also reduce the risk of yeast and STIs by avoiding chemical irritants, including scented soaps and feminine sprays, synthetic underwear, and douching, and by wearing cotton underwear that allows for proper air circulation.
5. Yeast infections
The good bacteria in your vagina, along with a little yeast, help keep it in check. But if something disrupts that balance, candida (the name for the fungus that causes an infection) can take over. This may happen with certain health issues like diabetes, when you have high estrogen levels during pregnancy or hormone therapy, after anal or oral sex, or if you’re taking antibiotics.
Yeast infections can be painful, but the itching is usually mild to moderate and doesn’t last long. The good news is you can often get rid of the infection with an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream or pill.
Yeast infections can also be caused by irritants in lubricants and spermicides, so you’ll want to try switching brands if it’s an ongoing problem. Itching on the vulva itself isn’t normal, but cooling the area with cold water, using a calming lotion (Estafan suggests organic coconut oil), and wearing latex condoms can all help relieve itching. If the itchiness persists, talk to your doctor. They can do a wet mount test and a vaginal culture to see if it’s an infection, or if you have another health issue that is causing your symptoms.