Why does my vagina itch *days* before my period?
By: Allison Waldbeser
Have you ever noticed your vagina starts to itch a few days before your period…?
Could it be a yeast infection? Maybe, maybe not. Many menstruating humans experience vaginal itching in different stages of their menstrual cycle. Remember, the menstrual cycle lasts ~28 days, having different functions in each stage, and every uterus is different! But why is it so common for people to experience that deadly itch before menstrual bleeding?
It could be many reasons, but it always links back to vaginal pH levels. A normal pH level for your vagina ranges from 3.5-4.5, which means it is acidic. If your pH levels are higher than 7, it is considered alkaline, which means your pH levels are too high and infection has risen. You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again – your vagina is a self-cleaning oven, which means it doesn’t need any scented soaps or creams (that will mess with your pH balance) to get clean! A simple rinse with water will do the trick.
Hormones also play a key role in your itchy vagina. Your vagina experiences a decrease of estrogen levels during the start of your period (the follicular phase). This change in estrogen is making your vaginal wall go all kinds of crazy, causing the vaginal wall to thin, increase inflammation, and create more acid in your vagina. Guess what? Yeast loves acidity, which could be one of the reasons why you feel itchy down there.
Aside from itching, many people also experience stinging and irritating sensations just days before or during their period. They could be experiencing cyclic vulvovaginitis.
Cyclic vulvovaginitis refers to the recurrent burning *and itching* happening down there before or during menstrual bleeding. It could mean that your vagina is experiencing intense burning, stinging, and overall irritation due to candida infection. How lovely does this sound? Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, don’t even THINK about having sexual intercourse – your vaginal walls will scream Bloody Mary.
So how can we treat an itchy vagina, especially before menstruation?
Hopefully you don’t always experience discomfort before or during your period, but if you do, there are many ways to prevent itchiness and keep your pH levels balanced. Raw probiotic pills are a vagina’s best friend. Eating probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, or miso can also make a great impact. Let’s not forget about cranberry juice – that stuff is full of acidic compounds that will fight off bacteria and keep your vagina happy. Also, tight, synthetic underwear can suffocate your vagina and create moisture, so remember to let it breathe! ;) Lastly, if you’re eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of yourself, then you're doing it right!