Intense itching around your vulva can make you feel miserable. It can distract you from your daily activities and keep you from feeling like yourself. When is genital itching a temporary annoyance and when should you seek treatment? While many women have occasional minor itching, you should see a vulvovaginal specialist if you have other symptoms or the itching does not go away.
What Causes Genital Itching?
Genital itching often occurs as a result of contact with irritants. This can include soaps, detergents, and fragrances in personal care products. This itching will usually go away as soon as contact with the irritant stops. You may also have temporary itching after intercourse or during your menstrual periods.
Genital itching caused by altered vaginal microflora (AVMF) often needs treatment to clear up. In a healthy vagina, lactobacilli maintain an acidic pH to deter other microorganisms from growing. When different bacteria or yeasts grow excessively, they can produce irritants that inflame the vulva and vaginal opening.
A condition called lichen sclerosis can also cause vaginal itching. While it can develop in people of any age, women of menopausal age are at the highest risk. If you have lichen sclerosis of the vulva, your skin becomes thin and infiltrated by immune system cells, causing itching and other symptoms.
When is Genital Itching Normal and When Should You Be Concerned?
Contact with irritants often causes genital itching. You may be able to treat this yourself by removing potential irritants until you find the culprit. Some itching can occur when your body is experiencing hormonal changes, such as during your period.
If your genital itching will not go away or keeps coming back, you may want to see a vulvovaginal specialist like the ones at Fowler GYN International. You should also see a doctor if you have other symptoms such as:
- Burning or stinging
- Pain or throbbing
- Discomfort during intercourse
- Discharge or odor
How is Genital Itching Diagnosed?
Most gynecologists can only diagnose a few causes of genital itching, such as yeast infections. For a vulvovaginal specialist, a yeast infection is not a cause but a sign of altered vaginal conditions allowing the yeasts to thrive. Vaginal Fluid Analysis (VFA) assesses the microflora balance in the vagina and helps your specialist choose a treatment protocol.
How Can Genital Itching Be Treated?
Your specialist will put you on a customized treatment protocol to balance your microflora. As good bacteria begin to push the problematic ones to their normal low levels, your vulva and vaginal opening can start to recover from the chronic irritation. The protocol will include the avoidance of any external irritants if possible.
Take the Next Step
The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ specialize in the treatment of vulvovaginal conditions. The team at FGI is led by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board-certified gynecologist.
You can reach FGI at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.