Vaginal burning and itching can cause a great deal of discomfort, especially during sexual intercourse. Burning in the vaginal area could be a sign of infection; however it can also occur from hormonal changes that cause thinning of the tissue. If your vaginal burning comes with an abnormal discharge, bleeding, or notice sores in your genital area, you may need medical evaluation.
Causes of Vaginal Burning
Determining the specific cause of vaginal burning is important because successful treatment depends on eliminating the cause of the burning entirely. Causes of vaginal burning include:
- Vaginal Dryness
- Hormonal Changes
- Hygiene Products
- Bacterial Infections
- Yeast Infections
- Viral Vaginitis
The discomfort and possibility that a sexually transmitted disease could be causing symptoms during intercourse underscores the importance of diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment and Prevention
Vaginal burning and irritation will often get better on its own; however, if the burning sensation continues, comes back after treatment, or is severe, make an appointment with your doctor or gynecologist who can do a pelvic exam. The doctor will probably also take a sample of your vaginal discharge to find the source of the problem.
How vaginal discomfort is treated depends on what condition is causing the problem:
- Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications. They are inserted into the vagina in the form of creams, ointments, or suppositories, or they are taken orally. You can buy these medications over the counter in different doses — one-day, three-day, seven-day.
- Menopause-related itching may be treated with estrogen cream or tablets.
- Vaginosis and STDs are treated with antibiotics.
- Other types of itching and irritation respond to steroid creams or lotions, which reduce inflammation. A prescription-strength steroid cream can relieve the irritation of lichen sclerosis.
Good hygiene is important when it comes to preventing vaginitis, vaginosis and irritation that can cause burning sensation and vaginal pain during intercourse. Women can reduce the chances of infection by practicing safe sex and by limiting sexual partners.
Postmenopausal women can prevent vaginal atrophy that causes burning and pain during sex by remaining sexually active. Sexual activity, with or without a partner, improves blood flow to the vagina and keeps the tissues healthy. Lubricating products, estrogen creams, rings and tablets inserted into the vagina are effective treatments for burning and pain during intercourse associated with estrogen decline.
A Few Tips for Preventing and Treating Vaginal Irritation
- Avoid scented pads or toilet paper, bubble bath, creams, douches and feminine sprays.
- Avoid sexual intercourse until your symptoms improve.
- Use water and a plain, unscented soap to regularly clean your genital area. But don’t wash more than once a day. Doing so can increase vaginal dryness.
- Always wipe from front to back after having a bowel movement.
- Wear cotton panties (no synthetic fabrics), and change your underwear every day.
- Use condoms during intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
- If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, use a vaginal moisturizer. Apply a water-based lubricant (K-Y Jelly, Astroglide) before having sex.
- Don’t scratch — you can further irritate the area.
The discomfort of vaginal burning with intercourse can lead to psychological distress and lack of intimacy that is important between partners. Finding the cause of symptoms of vaginal burning is important for successful treatment, prevention of complications and psychological distress.