Is Your Vaginal Opening After Sex Itchy?

Sex should be exciting, orgasmic and leave you with a lovely afterglow. But if your vulva and penis are itchy after sex, you may be dealing with a health issue.

Itching your genitals can be a sign of infection or an allergy. Thankfully, there are ways to treat it—but you’ll need to figure out what’s causing the itch first!

Causes

Mild itching that lasts a few days is normal and usually nothing to worry about. But if the itching is intense, accompanied by other symptoms such as redness and swelling of the vulva or an unusual vaginal discharge or odor, talk to your doctor right away. Your doctor can check if it could be a sign of an infection, allergy or STI.

Yeast infections are another common cause of itching around the vulva, particularly after sex. This is because sex can throw off the balance of the microorganisms that live in your body, and an overgrowth of yeast can develop. You can get over-the-counter antifungal creams and ointments to help with this, but if the itching persists, you should see your doctor or sexual health clinic to have a proper diagnosis.

Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause can also trigger itching of the vulva, especially when you’re using lubricants during intercourse. The thinning of the vulva due to this, called vaginal atrophy, is one of the main reasons women in these age groups may experience itching after sex. Using the wrong kind of condoms or lubricants, such as latex ones that you’re allergic to, can also cause itching and discomfort in the genital area. Try switching to plastic condoms and personal lubricants that are free of latex.

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Symptoms

If the itching doesn’t appear to be connected with lubrication, underlying infections, dry skin or an STD, the problem could simply be friction. This can happen if the area is not adequately lubricated or aroused before sex. Or, it may be a new product or soap that your body is reacting to (think contraceptive foams, scented soaps and sanitary pads). If this is the case, switch to something unscented or natural.

Another common cause is a yeast infection, which can occur around the time of your period when hormonal changes disrupt the normal balance of microorganisms in your vulva. You’ll know you have a yeast infection if you experience a cottage cheese-esque white discharge and burning. Antifungal creams and ointments can clear these up.

Itching can also be a sign of a genital condition such as lichen sclerosus, a dermatological disorder that causes itchy and bumpy patches to form on the skin. This can affect the vulva as well as other areas of the body, such as the palms and soles. In this case, it is important to see a doctor and/or sexual health clinic as the condition can be very painful. The clinic will be able to recommend a treatment plan. This may include avoiding the itchy area, applying a medicated ointment and/or antibiotics, or cryosurgery, which uses extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissue and warts.

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Treatment

If you’re experiencing mild after-sex itching, there are probably a few at-home treatments that can help. You can always use a lubricant before penetrative sex or oral sex to prevent friction that can cause itching, as well as avoiding finger-fingering in the sensitive area and using perfumed soaps or scented lotions near your private parts.

If the itching is accompanied by a change in vaginal discharge or new lumps or sores, then you should contact your doctor or sexual health clinic immediately. Some of these symptoms are warning signs for STIs like trichomoniasis, chlamydia and herpes. And since these STDs can take time to show up, it’s important to get tested if you think you might be infected.

The itching of the vulva can also be caused by yeast or bacterial infections such as candidiasis, sometimes called thrush. This happens when there’s an overgrowth of a yeast that lives in the vagina. Yeast infections are very common, especially in women. Over-the-counter antifungal creams and treatment kits can help, as can a yeast-free diet. Sperm allergy is another common reason for itching in the genitals, and can be treated with over-the-counter semen lubricants or antihistamines for severe allergic reactions. In some cases, a doctor can inject diluted semen into the vagina to build up tolerance and reduce itching.

Prevention

Itching is not only uncomfortable, but it can make sexual activity seem like a chore instead of an enjoyable experience. If itching is a recurring issue, it’s important to see a doctor or nurse about it. Often, itching is caused by an infection or irritation. A physician can prescribe medication to treat these issues.

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Women should avoid rubbing or scratching their genitals, as it can lead to a bacterial skin infection. Also, it is important to use a good vaginal moisturizer. This can be purchased in cream or suppository form and is recommended by many doctors.

Sometimes, vaginal itching is caused by friction between the vulva and your partner’s body, particularly during oral or finger sex. This can be prevented by using a water-based lube or attempting to increase foreplay before sex.

If a woman is unsure what is causing her itching, she can seek medical help at a sexual health clinic. Often, these clinics have walk-in service and can get test results faster than GP surgeries.

Over-the-counter antihistamines can treat a mild yeast infection. Doctors can also provide antifungal ointments or tablets for serious yeast infections. They can also prescribe a type of epinephrine auto-injector called an EpiPen for severe latex and semen allergy reactions, as well as sperm tolerance injections to reduce itching. STIs, such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and genital herpes, can be treated with antibiotics. Regular sex and the use of condoms can prevent the transmission of these infections.

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Adriana

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