Is It a Yeast Infection...or Something Else?

Decode your down-there itch.

It’s safe to say that any issues down there are unwelcome ones. And having an itchy vag can be super unnerving (not to mention annoying AF). Most of us tend to assume the irritation is probably just a sign of a yeast infection, but that's often not the case. Here are some other common vag conditions you might be dealing with and how to treat them.
One of the most common causes of itchy nether regions is bacterial vaginosis (a.k.a. BV). The uncomfortable condition is caused by an imbalance of the healthy, naturally occurring bacteria in your vagina and can feel a lot like a yeast infection. With BV, though, the change in pH levels causes a watery discharge (different from the thick white discharge characteristic of yeast infections), which usually has an odor, says Lauren Streicher, M.D., associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever. The good news is, BV can often be treated with an OTC pH-balancing cream. If that doesn’t do the trick, see your gyno for something prescription strength.

One of the more worrisome causes of itchy lady bits is STDs. Among those that can cause a serious itching sensation are chlamydia, trichomoniasis, herpes, and gonorrhea—none of which you really want to mess with. Usually, if the itching is due to one of these STDs, the feeling will progress to burning when you pee and cause pain during sex. You’ll also probably have some nasty-smelling discharge and may even have visible sores in the case of herpes. If the itching doesn’t stop or you notice any of these other symptoms, get to your gyno for an STD test ASAP. She’ll be able to diagnose the issue, which will likely be treated with antibiotics or antiviral meds.

[post_ads]Who knew you could have eczema or psoriasis in your genital region? If you already deal with one of these genetic conditions that cause itchy, dry, red patches of skin on other parts of your body, your vagina can be just as vulnerable. If you notice a patchy rash-like appearance that accompanies the itching but don’t have any discharge, this might be what’s going on. Whether it’s eczema or psoriasis, oatmeal baths and mild steroids like hydrocortisone cream can help soothe the discomfort, says Wendy Askew, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at the Institute for Women's Health in San Antonio.

This skin condition is a little more rare and a little more serious. Streicher says you might notice white spots on your skin in addition to the vulvar itching (but no discharge). Docs aren’t totally certain what causes it, although hormones or changes in your immune system could trigger it. If you notice the telltale white spots on your vulva or labia, get to the gyno—lichen sclerosus needs to be treated with prescription meds.

Of course, you could actually have a good old-fashioned yeast infection. They are fairly common, after all. Like BV, yeast infections are often the result of a pH imbalance, which can be caused by antibiotics, stress, or even sex. The most common tip-off that the itching is due to a yeast infection and not something else is your discharge, which would be thick, white, and curdled (good luck eating cottage cheese ever again). OTC treatments typically take care of symptoms in a couple of days, but if you find you’re prone to getting these infections, Askew recommends taking a probiotic high in the bacteria acidophilus to help keep yeast at bay.
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Women's Lifestyle: Is It a Yeast Infection...or Something Else?
Is It a Yeast Infection...or Something Else?
Decode your down-there itch.
Women's Lifestyle
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