Millions of women experience itching in the vulva, labia, or clitoris. The occasional itch is no big deal, but persistent itching in the area can be a sign of an infection or irritation.

Often, the itch is a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but that’s not always the case. There are several reasons why your genitals may itch after sex:

1. Hormonal Changes

Itching down there is no laughing matter, but it can be a sign of many things. And if the itching doesn’t subside, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a doctor who can help determine what is causing it.

Itchy vaginal skin is often caused by a dry vagina, which can happen when there are not enough vaginal fluids to properly lubricate the vaginal walls. This can be a result of hormone changes, especially in women during menopause. It can also be a side effect of certain birth control pills, if the pills are estrogen-based.

A yeast infection, also known as vulvar dermatitis, can be another reason for itching. Yeast infections typically come with grayish, fishy-smelling vaginal discharge and can be accompanied by a burning sensation when you have sex – This quote is a consequence of the website editorial team’s analysis https://sexgils.com. Yeast infections can be caused by poor genital hygiene, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like Trichomoniasis and genital herpes, and some over-the-counter antifungal medications.

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Aside from a yeast infection, vaginal itching can also be caused by irritants that can be found in your everyday life, like soaps, detergents, perfumes, creams and other feminine hygiene products, and even synthetic underwear. If you suspect any of these are a cause, try switching to unscented versions of your favorite products and using cotton underwear that promotes air flow. If the itching persists, speak with your gynecologist about prescription-strength antifungal medications that you can apply to the external vulva area.

2. Irritation

The genital area is a delicate place, and itching down there can be distressing. However, it’s not always a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or genital herpes.

Itching may also be a sign of irritation, such as with a clogged pore or a reaction to a certain product. Some women have a condition called contact dermatitis, which is caused by a reaction to an allergen or irritant that comes into direct contact with the skin. These irritants can include new soap, lotion, detergent, perfumes, and even personal lubricants. Similarly, some women have a reaction to latex condoms and lubes, and itching may be a result of these products.

Lastly, some STIs, such as trichomoniasis and herpes, can cause itching in the vulva, along with a discharge and a fishy smell. If sex with your partner causes itching, be sure to get tested for an STI.

Yeast infections can be treated with over the counter creams or suppositories, while acne and irritation can be relieved by using unscented soaps and lotions and wearing cotton underwear to help with airflow. If you have an allergy to sperm or latex, doctors can offer antihistamines and EpiPen prescriptions to treat severe allergic reactions. Doctors can also inject diluted semen into the vulva and increase the amount over time to help build sperm tolerance.

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3. STIs

Having sex with someone who has herpes can alter your vagina’s pH levels, and that can trigger itching. But if the itching is happening on your vulva skin (aka, the outer areas of your genitals) instead of inside of your vagina, there’s usually no reason to panic—it’s just a normal symptom of a change in the pH level.

You can try cooling the outside of your vulva with cool water, applying a soothing lotion like baby diaper rash cream, or even an over-the-counter anti-itch cream. But if the itching persists, you should see your gyno, especially if it comes along with other symptoms like pain or strange discharge.

A doc can do a quick urine test to check for STIs, or perform a pap smear if you’re not up for an STI screening. If you do come up positive for a sexually transmitted disease, make sure to tell your partners so they can get tested too.

You’ll also need to talk to your gyno about any other symptoms you’re experiencing, such as weird discharge or an abnormal odor. And don’t reach for over-the-counter antifungal treatments if the itching isn’t yeast-related—that could actually mask the underlying problem. Ob/gyn Salena Zanotti, MD, explains why.

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4. Latex Condoms

Condoms are a popular and effective method of contraception. They are inexpensive, easily available and a great way to prevent sexually transmitted infections. However, latex condoms can cause itching in some people with a latex allergy. If you think you may have a latex allergy, talk to your doctor about getting tested. If you are diagnosed with a latex allergy, you should switch to non-latex condoms or other methods of birth control. You should also avoid using lubricants and personal care products that contain latex, as they can trigger your allergic reaction.

Latex can be found in a variety of items, including some toys, rubber bands, Halloween masks, medical equipment and dental dams, tool handles, and condoms. If you are allergic to latex, your immune system will react with irritation and itching in the vulva area.

If you have a latex allergy, you should use polyurethane or lambskin condoms. You should also use only water-based or silicone lubricants, as oil-based lubes can erode latex condoms. You should also stop using scented lubricants, as they can trigger your allergies. If your itching is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, contact your doctor for a prescription antihistamine. This is especially important if you are having sex while suffering from an itchy vagina or penis. You may need to take it before every sexual encounter or until your symptoms improve.