It’s very common.
First, you’re not alone! Vaginal itching and irritation are two of the most common symptoms women tend to experience when it comes to vaginal health. In fact, a recent PubMed study revealed that 60% or more women experienced vaginal itching in the last two years.
Vaginal itching can occur at any time.
Feminine itch can be caused by a number of factors. Some of the most common are associated with:
- Irritants from chemicals, including fragrance, found in soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, feminine sprays, douches, topical contraceptives, body washes
- Vaginal infections
- Fluctuations in estrogen levels due to menopause
- Irritation caused by urinary incontinence
- Allergic reactions or medicinal side effects
- Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or atopic dermatitis
Vaginas are meant to smell, but it should be a light smell, not a fishy or metallic smell.
Every female has a natural vaginal scent that can change throughout her menstrual cycle. A strong odor, however, can be a sign of an infection, particularly if she is sexually active. Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as trichomoniasis can cause a different odor. And the condition called bacterial vaginosis causes a “fishy” odor.
Not all vaginal odors are caused by an infection, though. For example, poor hygiene or tight fitting clothing or fabric that doesn’t breathe can cause sweat and bacteria to get trapped which can cause and unpleasant odor. But don’t be fooled by products such as douches or sprays that claim to “clean” your vagina. They can be harmful because they remove the fluids that naturally clean your vagina. These products (particularly the scented ones) can actually cause irritation!
Itching or an unpleasant smell are often a sign of vaginal pH imbalance or vaginal biome imbalance.
Science has shown that the normal pH of a healthy vagina is between 3.8 and 4.5. This vaginal environment is protective. It prevents unhealthy bacteria and yeast from multiplying too quickly and causing infection. A high vaginal pH level (above 4.5) provides the perfect environment for unhealthy bacteria to grow, which can often cause uncomfortable itching and an unusual odor.
Our vaginal biome is the collection of bacteria living in our vaginas. And, similar to our gut biome, we have both good bacteria and bad bacteria. What’s important is to make sure the good bacteria are “winning”!
The good bacteria help regulate your vagina’s pH level by fighting and killing bad bacteria. When the balance of bacteria is thrown off, then your pH will also be thrown off. So, maintaining this balance is key.
It’s usually easily treated at home.
Washing daily with a gentle cleanser like Balance Moisturizing Personal Wash is the perfect way to help cleanse, refresh, and eliminate odor, as it is formulated to accurately match vaginal pH. This wash does not use artificial fragrances, petroleum, and parabens on your body like other feminine hygiene washes.
Using a pH-balancing wipe like Rebalance Personal Moisturizing and Cleansing Wipes can be very helpful too! They’re perfect for travel, post-workout, after an intimate moment, and everyday, on-the-go cleansing. Like Balance Wash, they are formulated to closely replicate the healthiest vaginal conditions to support your natural vaginal ecosystem.
If you need additional support balancing your pH level, try using a vaginal moisturizer. Many women use vaginal moisturizer daily, especially after menopause when their bodies don’t produce as much estrogen, causing daily dryness. Other women only use vaginal moisturizer a few times a month, during the times of their cycle when their estrogen is lower. The key here is that most women will benefit from a vaginal moisturizer even if they only use it on less frequent “dry” days.
Restore Moisturizing Vaginal Gel is our favorite vaginal moisturizer! Restore mimics the vagina’s natural equilibrium with perfectly calibrated pH levels, salt balance, and the same type of beneficial lactic acid produced by healthy vaginal bacteria for a truly lubricating response.
Another option is to introduce strains of good bacteria, which is how vaginal probiotics can helpl. A good Vaginal Probiotic like BiopHresh introduces strains of bacteria associated with the healthiest vaginas. Lactobacilli helps produce lactic acid, a key component to a healthy, functioning vagina. Lactic acid stimulates healthy cervical mucus, and discourages the growth of unwanted bacteria, yeast, and viruses in your vagina.
BiopHresh Vaginal Probiotic Supplement combines the most prevalent vaginal lactobacilli species and has been clinically shown to be effective at 5 to 10 billion to help restore healthy vaginal flora.
If you find that after trying to balance your pH and biome doesn’t end your irritation or odor, it may be time to see your physician.
What causes it to smell “down there” (my vagina)?, Center for Young Women's Health
Vaginal symptoms in postmenopausal women: self-reported severity, natural history, and risk factors, Menopause