If your vagina is on fire, it's time to get some help. No one ever wants to talk to people about vaginal burning, which is why we're going after all the embarassing problems women experience "down there" that cause a burning sensation.
About Vaginal Burning, Irritation and Itching
Women who have never had vaginal problems before tend to worry there's a serious medical condition as soon as they start having symptoms. The good news is that it's usually nothing to worry about, and it can be treated easily with medication.
The first thing to think about is if you have changed your body soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent or dryer sheets. If you have, then the different chemicals may irritate your vagina. Simply change back to what you were previously using or opt for products that cater to sensitive skin.
Frequent Sex or Rough Sex
Women who have frequent or rough sex have a greater risk of suffering from vaginal irritation and burning. Sex causes friction, and this can tear vaginal tissue, even if you use lubrication.
While it can be difficult to see the cuts on your vagina, you might notice your nether regions are red and irritated.
The best treatment for this is to avoid sex for a few days until your vagina has healed. To prevent it from happening, avoid frequent or rough sex.
A bacterial infection, also known as bacterial vaginosis, can cause burning in the vagina. With this type of infection, bad bacteria from various sources grow in the vagina. While symptoms vary with bacterial vaginosis, most women experience discharge and a fishy odor along with burning and irritation.
To treat the infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Medication typically rids your body of the infection and stops the burning within a few days.
A yeast infection, or vaginal candidiasis, is one of the most common reasons why women experience irritation. In fact, 3 out of 4 women will have a yeast infection in their lives.
When a woman has a yeast infection, she has yeast, or candida, excessively growing in her vagina or vulva. Most women will have a thick, white discharge, plus burning and itching when they have this type of infection.
To treat a yeast infection, doctors typically prescribe an antifungal medication. Some women receive oral medication, while others receive creams, suppositories or ointments to use in and on the vagina. Your history of yeast infections and the intensity of your symptoms will determine your specific treatment regimen.
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)
This is what many women worry about when they feel their vaginas burning. Luckily, there's a greater chance of having a bacterial or yeast infection than an STD, especially if you've had protected sex.
If you haven't had protected sex, you may have contracted an STD. Some of the most common ones that include a burning sensation as a symptom include chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis and gonorrhea.
To treat an STD, a doctor will normally prescribe an antibiotic and request you come in for a follow-up appointment to make sure you no longer experience symptoms. It's important to treat an STD as soon as possible because it can cause internal problems if left untreated.
While this condition is rare and occurs mainly in postmenopausal women, some younger women do suffer from it. You can tell if it is lichen sclerosis by using a mirror to inspect your vagina.
If you see white patches on the vagina and vulva, you most likely have the condition and should contact your doctor for treatment. Many doctors prescribe a steroid cream for this condition, as it reduces the inflammation associated with the condition.
One of the most misunderstood vaginal conditions is vulvodynia. The medical community is baffled by this condition and can't explain why it happens. They suspect that many women have a genetic predisposition for it. Immune deficiencies, hormones, nerve connection abnormalities, oxalates in urine and chronic inflammation are other considerations for possible causes.
Most sufferers feel pain at the opening of the vagina and the bottom of the vulva.
If you feel you may have this condition, seek medical attention. Your doctor can use a cotton swab to test for it by swabbing the site of the pain or burning.
Because not a whole lot is known about this condition, there are many options for treatment. Some women spend weeks or months searching for relief. The least invasive treatment is changing your diet to one that is low in oxalates. High oxalate levels in urine sometimes can cause vaginal irritation.
Some physicians also recommend taking a calcium citrate supplement of 1,500 milligrams. Some women respond well to tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants because they reduce vaginal irritation.
Others do better with steroid injections, which paralyze the nerves and relieve the pain. Surgery is the last resort and involves removing the painful part of the vulva.
Speaking to Your Doctor about Vaginal Burning
While it may not be easy to speak to your doctor about your vaginal issues, it's imperative you address your concerns if you don't believe they are from frequent or rough sex or a chemical irritation. The longer you wait, the worse the condition can become, and that means more pain.
To make your discussion with your doctor easier, write a list of all your symptoms. When your doctor asks you what you've been experiencing, you can simply take out your list and read from it. This way, your anxiety won't get in the way of remembering all of the issues you are having.
It's likely your doctor will ask you questions about your sexual activities in the past few months. To avoid the embarrassment of having to answer these questions, give him the information as part of your symptoms. You can simply say, "I have not had any unprotected sex." or "I have had unprotected sex, and I fear I may have a STD because of the symptoms I've just listed."
Always remember to report your history of any other vaginal problems. This can help the doctor diagnose you more easily and quickly.