Does it itch…you know…down there?
March 5, 2012 4 Comments
So you’re pregnant and probably not too comfortable in general…and then it starts to itch down there.
If you have vaginal itch you know what I’m talking about without me having to go into great detail and you just want to know how to MAKE IT STOP!!! Well, you’re in luck because you can put some of these suggestions to use right now…Ready? I thought so…
Ok for those of you who have not been graced with an itch that is insanely annoying, I’m talking about vaginal itching during pregnancy. Granted, it can certainly happen when you’re not pregnant, but when you’re pregnant you’re concerned about problems with the baby, medication issues and things like that. If you are experiencing vaginal itching, make sure you let your care provider know so that they can run a few tests and are aware of measures you’re taking to combat it.
First: Why is this happening?!
You could be itching for any number of reasons (hence why you need to let your OB or midwife know) but most of them are pretty mundane. Your labia are likely red and inflamed, further exacerbating the problem. You are likely sweating a bit more and your body chemistry is changing. So if you have moisture accumulating near all that sensitive skin, along with any discharge you may be having, things will start to get irritated. It’s also possible that you have a yeast infection (talk to your doctor before taking any OTC remedies). If you have itching, discomfort and foul-smelling discharge, you may have some type of vaginal infection and your care provider can test for this.
Note: If you think you have a yeast infection and you’re nursing (pregnant or not) call your doctor ASAP because a vaginal yeast infection could lead to your nipples and the baby getting a yeast infection (thrush). Chances of this increase if you took antibiotics near the time of birth.
Sometimes, your doctor finds nothing (and may not be concerned about it or care at all) and it just ITCHES! and it won’t stop and … ok I can hear the frustration from here…
Second: Make it stop!
Here are a few things you can do to make the itching stop or at least calm it down to the point of not driving you crazy. It’s probably not something that will go away, but you can manage it. But, on a happy note, it will most likely go away as soon as you give birth.
- For instant relief, a cold wash cloth pressed against your labia will relieve the itch and give you some relief. Stay away from hot water because it will make skin more sensitive and draw the blood to the surface further irritating (and you should take too-hot showers or baths during pregnancy because you don’t want to raise your body temperature too much).
- Make sure you’re wearing breathable cotton panties that aren’t too tight (white or unbleached are best). I know, you’re trying to squeeze through pregnancy without getting new maternity undies. You may be able to do that, but if they’re too tight on your crotch they may be exacerbating the problem.
- Avoid tight clothes, especially jeans, nylons or spandex….basically anything that doesn’t let air get to your vagina. I found scrub pants (from Wal-Mart) to be the best option for me while pregnant.
- Change your undies a few times a day and try going without while you’re in bed. This is especially true if the itching is caused, or made worse by, sweating. Keeping fresh panties on and letting your vagina “air out” will help.
- Switch to laundry detergent with no added perfumes or dyes, and avoid fabric softeners (white vinegar will work as a substitute). The additional chemicals may be irritating your skin, even if it never bothered you before. Pregnancy does all sorts of wonky things to our bodies, and changing what we can tolerate is one of them.
- Switch to bathing with very mild soap (but avoid Ivory) and consider using a dedicated intimate wash. Make sure you avoid bubble baths too. Anything that has a lot of fragrance and additives is just going to irritate your already sensitive skin.
- Try using panty liners to help wick the moisture away from your body. Make sure you change them often. This will also help if you have a little bladder incontinence which sometimes starts in early pregnancy. Going pee frequently may also help.
- Sprinkle a bit of powder (like Vagisil or Summer’s Eve) or cornstarch in your panties a few times throughout the day. This will help make you feel a bit fresher, especially if you’re extra sweaty. Make sure you get the unscented kind. I’m waiting for them to make handy purse-sized bottles of powder (if anyone finds these please let me know).
- Carry wipes with you and use them whenever you go to the restroom. There are a few companies that are making individually wrapped wipes for women (Always and Summer’s Eve come to mind). They’re handy to throw in your purse and help wipe away the bacteria from sweat as well as discharge that could be causing itching. You can also use baby wipes but stay away from moist towelletts meant for your hands.
- Soak in a warm bath with baking soda sprinkled in it. How much baking soda will depend on the amount of water, use your judgment and experiment to find what feels best to you (I’ve seen everything from 1/2 cup to 3 lbs). This will also help if your growing belly is itching.
- You can make a baking soda past (baking soda + water) to spread onto your vagina which is a nice alternative if you wish to avoid over-the-counter anti-itch creams.
- There are OTC anti-itch creams you can purchase and are generally considered to be safe during pregnancy. Do NOT use hydrocortizone creams because they are a steroid and break down the skin. Be sure to talk with your care provider before trying any of these because their safety may also depend upon where you are in your pregnancy.
- Eat yogurt. It helps regulate your body’s pH and keeps yeast infections at bay. It’s also a decent source of necessary protein and calcium, especially Greek yogurt. Just be sure to compare a few brands and get the one with the least added sugar and avoid artificial sweeteners during pregnancy.
Hopefully you will get a bit of relief. I know how annoying, yucky and crazy intense vaginal itching can be (I had it with my second pregnancy). It’s made even worse if you have a care provider that doesn’t seem to… well…care.
Have a tip on helping relieve vaginal itching? Please share!
Thanks and Happy Parenting!