What Causes Vaginal Itching Around a Period?

Many things can cause vaginal itching (vaginal pruritus) during and after your period. At any time during your menstrual cycle, infections, skin conditions, sensitivities, certain medications, or diseases may cause vaginal itching.

However, if you experience itching during your period, the culprits may be hormonal changes or allergies to tampons or other menstrual products. Treatment for vaginal itching depends on the cause.

This article covers reasons for vaginal itching during and after your period, how to manage the itching, and when you should see a healthcare provider.

Tampons and menstrual pads fall out of a teal pouch

Isabel Pavia / Getty Images

Vaginal Itching During a Period

If vaginal itching starts during your period, it could be due to hormonal fluctuations or sensitivities to the menstrual products you are using.

Hormonal Changes

The menstrual cycle has three hormonal phases: follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. Your period is the beginning of the follicular phase. 

During this phase, the endometrium (uterine lining) is thick. However, the low levels of estrogen and progesterone during this phase cause the uterine lining to break down and shed. This shedding results in vaginal bleeding. 

While bleeding only lasts between three to seven days, the follicular phase lasts up to a couple of weeks. It ends when the level of luteinizing hormone surges. Hormonal fluctuations, especially low estrogen, can sometimes result in itching.

Sensitivities and Allergies

In addition, you may be sensitive or allergic to specific products, especially those that come in contact with your vulva or vagina during your period. Sensitivities may lead to itching.

Some common products that could lead to vulvar or vaginal itching include:

  • Fabric softeners
  • Laundry detergents
  • Soaps
  • Tampons, pads, and other menstrual products

Scented items tend to cause more irritation on sensitive skin. So, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to stick to unscented menstrual products, soaps, and detergents made for people with skin sensitivities.

Vaginal Itching After Period 

Vaginal itching can occur at any time during your menstrual cycle. Causes range from infection, skin conditions, medications, and cancer.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common condition where the normal balance of bacteria is disrupted. When you have BV, you have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the vagina.

BV is the most common vaginal condition in people ages 15 to 44.

The exact cause of BV is unknown. However, it occurs most often in sexually active people. 

In addition to vaginal itching, BV causes other symptoms, including:

You can not treat BV at home. It requires a medical diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics. 

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause vaginal itching. A parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis causes the condition.

Trichomoniasis infected more than 2 million Americans in 2018. In the U.S., it is the most common of all curable STIs.

Up to 70% of people with trichomoniasis do not exhibit symptoms. But, those who do have symptoms may experience the following:

  • Genital itching and irritation 
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal odor that smells “fishy”


Treating trichomoniasis requires prescription medication. If you suspect you may be infected, it’s essential to see a healthcare provider. In addition, after treatment, it’s possible to become reinfected. All sexual partners should receive treatment simultaneously to limit the likelihood of reinfection.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

Vaginal yeast infection, also called vaginal thrush, is a fungal infection in the vagina. Vaginal yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida. This fungus usually lives in your vagina in healthy amounts. However, a yeast infection occurs when this fungus overgrows. 

Yeast infections are common. People most at-risk for developing them include those who are pregnant, take birth control pills, have diabetes, are immunocompromised, or are taking antibiotics.

Symptoms of thrush include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal itching
  • Painful sex
  • Painful urination

Yeast infections are treated with anti-fungal medicine. 

Vulvovaginitis is inflammation or infection of the vulva and vagina. It can result in itching, pain, and discharge with odor. Yeast, bacteria, and STIs can cause it, but for some people, vulvovaginitis occurs more frequently during their period.

Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a skin condition that causes itching and irritation. Allergies, sensitivities, or an inflammatory disease like eczema cause dermatitis. 

Contact dermatitis occurs when your skin reacts to a substance to which you are sensitive or allergic. Symptoms include itching, burning, and skin rash or blisters. The itching from dermatitis can be intense and disrupt a person’s ability to sleep or perform day-to-day tasks.

The best way to treat dermatitis is to prevent it. Therefore, try to identify the trigger and avoid it. In the meantime, topical steroids can help relieve itch and inflammation. Allergy testing may be a good idea to help narrow down allergens.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes scaly, itchy patches on the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body—even the genitals.

Anyone can develop psoriasis, but it is not contagious. Instead, it occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your body’s tissues. 

Symptoms of genital psoriasis include:

  • Red, inflamed, flaking skin 
  • Itching 
  • Dry, cracked skin

Even if you treat psoriasis elsewhere on your body, it’s important to tell your healthcare provider about psoriasis on your vagina or vulva. That’s because the skin on your genitals is thinner and more sensitive. Therefore, your healthcare provider may suggest a different treatment for that area. 

Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is a condition that causes itchy bumps on the skin. Anyone can get lichen planus, but it is most common in middle-aged people. The cause of lichen planus is unknown. One theory is that it is an autoimmune disease.

Lichen planus bumps can occur anywhere on the skin, including the genitals. Symptoms of lichen planus include:

  • Patches of scaly skin
  • Itching 
  • Blisters
  • Genital pain

Antihistamines may relieve the itch associated with lichen planus. In addition, a healthcare provider may prescribe topical and systemic steroids. They may also suggest light therapy and retinoic acid. 

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is an inflammatory skin disorder that affects the vulva and perineum. Researchers believe it is caused by immune dysfunction, genetics, and hormones.

Not everyone with the condition experiences symptoms. Those who do may have vulvar itching and find that sex feels painful. In addition, the genitals may appear white, thin, and wrinkled.

Healthcare providers commonly use steroids to manage the symptoms. 

Atrophic Vulvovaginitis 

Atrophic vulvovaginitis is a condition where the skin of the vulva and vagina is dry and painful. It is most common in post-menopausal people. It also occurs during lactation, cancer treatments, and with some medications.

Symptoms of atrophic vulvovaginitis include:

Lubricants can often help with vaginal dryness, especially during sexual activity. In addition, healthcare providers routinely prescribe progesterone and estrogen hormone therapy.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications can contribute to vaginal itching, including antibiotics, immune-suppressing drugs, and steroids. That’s because these medications can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria and yeast, leading to infection.

Cancer 

Less frequently, itching can be a symptom of any cancer, especially skin cancer. In addition, cancer treatment can sometimes cause itching.

Cancers that affect the genital area include:

Regular screenings help catch cancers in their early stages when they are most treatable. So, get pap smears and other recommended cancer screenings regularly. If you are undergoing cancer treatment and experiencing itching as a side effect, talk to your oncologist for treatment options. 

How to Stop Vaginal Itching

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to manage vaginal itching when it does occur. Sometimes you can control itching at home. Other times, you’ll need to see a healthcare provider for treatment.

Home Remedies for Vaginal Itching

Home remedies can help you manage the discomfort of vaginal itching. You might use them for minor situations that don’t require medical support, and you can also use them alongside standard medical care to soothe skin and provide relief. 

Home remedies include:

  • Cool compress 
  • Colloidal oatmeal bath
  • Eliminate scented menstrual products
  • Switch to soaps and detergents for sensitive skin
  • Wear breathable, cotton underwear

Applying aloe vera or coconut oil are also used to manage the symptoms of vaginal itching. These products should not be placed in the vagina or on the vaginal mucosa.

Typical Medical Treatments for Vaginal Itching

Medical treatment depends on the vaginal itching cause. A healthcare provider will first diagnose your condition and then prescribe treatment.

Treatment may include:

  • Antifungal medication 
  • Antibiotics
  • Topical or systemic steroids
  • Allergy medication
  • Hormone therapy
  • Lubricants

When to See a Healthcare Provider

You should see a healthcare provider any time you are worried about your symptoms or have signs of infection. In addition, the following symptoms warrant medical attention:

  • Sores on the genitals
  • Pain or tenderness in the pelvis or vaginal area
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain or difficulty urinating

Summary

Vaginal itching during and after your period may be caused by many things, including hormones, skin sensitivities, infections, STIs, and medications. Treatment depends on the cause but may include antifungals or antibiotics, steroids, and lubricants.

A Word From Verywell

If you are experiencing vaginal itching during your menstrual cycle, you may be feeling embarrassed. Don't be. Rest assured, vaginal itching during and after your period is very common. Getting an accurate diagnosis is key to relieving your symptoms, so call a healthcare provider for treatment options. In the meantime, you may be able to find some relief with an oatmeal bath, cool compresses, and vaginal lubricants.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you be allergic to tampons?

    Since tampons contain many ingredients, it is possible to be allergic to them. Avoid products that have added chemicals, such as those with added fragrances. And discontinue use and talk to a healthcare provider if you notice symptoms after using tampons.

  • Why do tampons irritate me?

    Some people, especially those with sensitive skin, may be sensitive to tampons. In addition, if you have vaginal dryness, tampons may irritate skin that is already irritated.

  • Can you be allergic to your period blood?

    You can't be allergic to your period blood. However, rarely, people develop a condition called progestogen hypersensitivity, which is a reaction to their own body's progesterone. The skin condition occurs during a person's menstrual cycle.

  • What are the side effects of tampons?

    Side effects from tampon use include the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome (TSS). In addition, some people are sensitive to tampon ingredients and may develop an itchy rash.

15 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.
  1. Knudtson J, McLaughlin JE. Menstrual cycle. Merck Manual. 

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bacterial vaginosis: CDC fact sheet.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trichomoniasis: CDC fact sheet

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaginal cadidiasis.

  5. National Eczema Association. Contact dermatitis

  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How can I treat genital psoriasis?.

  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Lichen planus: who gets and causes.

  8. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Lichen planus: signs and symptoms

  9. UpToDate. Patient education: vulvar lichen sclerosus (beyond the basics).

  10. Mac Bride MB, Rhodes DJ, Shuster LT. Vulvovaginal atrophy. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85(1):87-94. doi:10.4065/mcp.2009.0413

  11. American Cancer Society. Signs and symptoms of basal and squamous cell skin cancers.

  12. American Cancer Society. Itching

  13. Criquet M, Roure R, Dayan L, Nollent V, Bertin C. Safety and efficacy of personal care products containing colloidal oatmeal. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2012;5:183-193. doi:10.2147/CCID.S31375

  14. Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The effect of aloe vera clinical trials on prevention and healing of skin wound: a systematic review. Iran J Med Sci. 2019;44(1):1-9.

  15. Evangelista MT, Abad-Casintahan F, Lopez-Villafuerte L. The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial. Int J Dermatol. 2014;53(1):100-108. doi:10.1111/ijd.12339

By Kathi Valeii
As a freelance writer, Kathi has experience writing both reported features and essays for national publications on the topics of healthcare, advocacy, and education. The bulk of her work centers on parenting, education, health, and social justice.