Causes of Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy

Depending on its cause, you can reduce this uncomfortable itching

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Vaginal itching during pregnancy is common and often due hormonal changes that disrupt the pH balance of the vagina. This can lead to itch-inducing vaginal dryness and sweatiness, as well as yeast infections (which usually also cause thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge).

Certain medications can also cause vaginal dryness and itching. Less commonly, bacteria vaginosis (BV) or an undiagnosed sexually transmitted infection (STI) may be the underlying cause. This is important to consider, since these can pose certain health risks to a fetus.

This article explores the causes of vaginal itching during pregnancy. It also explains how vaginal itching can be treated and prevented based on the underlying cause.

Thoughtful looking pregnant woman in bed
Lane Oatey / Blue Jean Images / Getty Images

What Causes Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy?

There are many reasons you may experience vaginal itching during pregnancy. Most do not call for aggressive treatment, but some do require medication. Eight possible causes include:

  • Vaginal yeast infections, also known as vaginal thrush or vaginal candidiasis, are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. These infections are especially common during the second trimester and, while uncomfortable, pose little risk to your fetus.
  • Sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, can cause vaginal itchiness. Getting these infections treated is important as they can be passed to your fetus and cause potentially serious complications.
  • Bacterial vaginosis is more common during pregnancy and can lead to an irritated and itchy vagina. This infection also puts a fetus at a higher risk for premature birth as well as low birth weight.
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your skin more sensitive, causing dryness, cracking, rash, and itching.
  • Breastfeeding, and preparation for it, decreases estrogen levels and can lead to vaginal dryness and itchiness.
  • Vaginal sweatiness can also occur due to hormonal changes, irritating the vagina and promoting fungal growth in people with yeast infections.
  • Medications, like certain antihistamines and antidepressants, can also cause vaginal dryness and itchiness.
  • Pubic hair can grow long and wiry during pregnancy and cause itchiness as it rubs against the skin, especially if you wear tight pants.

Why Do I Itch More at Night When I'm Pregnant?

Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy is one possibility. This liver condition triggers intense itching without a rash, which tends to increase at night. This commonly occurs during late pregnancy and requires treatment. Due to the risk that it poses to a fetus, early delivery may be recommended.

Vaginal Itching Treatment During Pregnancy

There are various ways to treat vaginal itching depending on the underlying cause. These include home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and prescription drugs.

Home Remedies

Home remedies generally do not treat the underlying cause of vaginal itching. They simply relieve the symptoms and may be appropriate if the itching is mild.

Here are some home remedies that can help:

  • Apply a cold compress to the vagina, or take cooling baths.
  • Take a baking soda bath, mixing 1/4 to 2 cups of baking soda into a tub full of warm (not hot) water.
  • Mix baking soda and water to create a paste, and apply it to the itchy skin.
  • Apply coconut oil to the itchy skin. Do not put the oil inside your vagina.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter antifungal medications that treat mild yeast infections are available. These include creams and ointments that get applied to the skin and suppositories, which get inserted into the vagina.

Antifungal agents commonly used in OTC vaginal preparations include:

  • Clotrimazole, found in products like Lotrimin AF and Mycelex
  • Miconazole, found in products like Monistat 3, Monistat 7, and Vagistat 3
  • Tioconazole, found in products like Vagistat 1
  • Terconazole, found in many generic vaginal antifungals

Topical antifungals can treat a vaginal yeast infection at any point during pregnancy and do not pose a risk to a fetus.

There are also topical medications like Vagisil cream that do not contain an antifungal agent but are designed to reduce itch with topical anesthetics like benzocaine or lidocaine.

These may be good options if your itching is not caused by a yeast infection.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a seven-day course of a topical antifungal as the most appropriate option for treating a yeast infection during pregnancy. Prescription-strength versions are available if the infection is severe.

However, oral antifungals are not recommended. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently advises against the use of high-dose Diflucan (fluconazole) due to the risk of birth defects. The risk is greatest during the first trimester and at doses greater than 400 milligrams (mg).

Taking a prescription antiviral drug like Zovirax (acyclovir) is imperative if there is an active outbreak of genital herpes during pregnancy. Other STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, require treatment with a prescription antibiotic like Rocephin (ceftriaxone).

Bacterial vaginosis is most commonly treated with the antibiotics Flagyl (metronidazole) or Clidacin (clindamycin).

When Should I Be Worried About Vaginal Itching?

You should see your healthcare provider if you are not responding to treatment for a vaginal infection during pregnancy, particularly if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve or get worse after several days of treatment.
  • The vaginal infection returns after treatment.
  • You develop new symptoms during or after treatment.
  • You experience multiple vaginal infections during pregnancy.

When to Call 911

Call 911 or rush to your nearest emergency room if you have signs or symptoms of miscarriage or other pregnancy complications irrespective of the cause. This is especially true if:

  • Your baby stops moving.
  • You experience significant vaginal bleeding or a brown watery discharge.
  • You have contractions, leaking fluid, or other signs of labor.

Preventing Vaginal Itching

There are certain practices that can reduce the risk of vaginal yeast infections and other causes of vaginal itching:

  • Keep your vaginal area clean and dry. Use mild, unscented soap and water, and pat dry with a clean, soft towel.
  • Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to prevent bacteria from entering the vagina.
  • Avoid vaginal douches which can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and fungus in your vagina.
  • Use fragrance-free soaps, bath additives, and laundry detergents. Avoid feminine deodorants.
  • Avoid hot tubs and extra hot baths which can dry the vaginal skin out.
  • Wear light cotton underwear, and change it whenever it becomes wet or sweaty.
  • Avoid tight pants or skirts, opting instead for light, loose-fitting clothes.


Vaginal itching during pregnancy can be triggered by changes in hormones, certain medications, and some infections.

Home remedies may relieve vaginal itching. However, if you have an infection or are experiencing severe symptoms, it's best to reach out to your healthcare provider. Vaginal infections may be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications depending on the specific diagnosis.

To keep your vagina healthy, be sure to practice good hygiene and note anything that may trigger irritation or itchiness.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  6. Cleveland Clinic. Sexual health: genital itching.

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  8. American Liver Foundation. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).

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By Tracee Cornforth
Tracee Cornforth is a freelance writer who covers menstruation, menstrual disorders, and other women's health issues.