Vaginal burning is an uncomfortable sensation felt around the vagina. It can vary in intensity or frequency. Sometimes, the inflammation is constant. In other cases, it may appear at specific times, like during sex. It may appear or disappear suddenly. Its ebb and flow could instead be gradual.
It is not necessarily a sign of something terribly wrong. Since it can be a symptom of many conditions, though, it is important to monitor. If it is continuous, or you suspect it may be something serious, you may need to consult our doctor. You might even need to undergo testing for STIs or other conditions.
What Causes Vaginal Burning?
It could be the result of many factors. Some of the most common include:
- Dryness - When the walls of the vagina lose their natural lubrication, the result is mild to intense burning in the affected area.
- Irritation - Often, physical irritants will cause burning around the vagina. Vigorous wiping or trauma can result in an unpleasant sensation that takes some time to heal. Chemical irritants in creams, soaps, wipes, or fabric softeners may result in an allergic reaction that causes the vagina to burn. The chemicals used in douching can have a similar effect. Douching may also kill beneficial vaginal bacteria, resulting in infections that cause the burning sensation.
- Bacterial Vaginosis - This is one such infection that may occur when the balance of microorganisms in the vagina is off. Two of the conditions main symptoms are a smelly discharge and vaginal burning.
- Yeast Infections - When a yeast known as candida grows excessively in the vagina, a yeast infection is present. Women who are pregnant, engaging in intercourse, or have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to this condition. Vaginal burning is one of the primary symptoms.
- Menopause - The drop in estrogen at the end of a woman's reproductive cycle causes dryness in the vagina that you may experience as a burning sensation.
- STIs - some sexually transmitted infections present vaginal burning as a symptom. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, and more could be possible culprits.
- UTIs - When your body's urine excretion system becomes infected, it may try to warn you with an unpleasant burning in the vagina.
- Other Causes - There are other possibilities that may result in burning. These include hormonal imbalances, skin conditions, and some allergic reactions.
Diagnosing The Issue
Your doctor will order tests to determine which of the possible causes is responsible. These may include blood tests, urine tests, or vaginal swabs. Based on other symptoms that are present, your doctor may be able to narrow down the list of potential causes, and more quickly determine which is affecting you.
Treating Vaginal Burning
Sometimes, doctors will recommend a "wait-and-see" approach. If the sensation subsides on its own, there may be no cause for further action. If it returns or worsens, though, intervention may be necessary.
The method of treatment will depend on the underlying cause. In cases where an STI or UTI is present, clearing the infection with antibiotics will usually remove the symptoms. You can treat yeast infections with antifungal medications.
Menopause treatments may involve hormones, creams, vaginal inserts, and lifestyle changes. Other general forms of burning treatment could include creams and lotions.
Limiting Vaginal Burning/Home Treatment
There are many steps you can take on your own to curtail instances of vaginal burning. These include:
- Avoiding scented feminine products. This includes pads, wipes, toilet paper, creams and the like. The chemicals used to create the scent could be causing irritation, so you should refrain from using them.
- Perform regular vaginal hygiene. Wash your genitals every day with unscented soap and water. Wipe from front to back. Don't go overboard with the washing, though, as overdoing it could increase dryness and result in burning.
- Treat dryness. There are lubricating creams that you can use to combat vaginal dryness. During intercourse, use water based lubricants to cut down on irritation. Don't douche, as this can increase dryness.
- Stay cool and promote ventilation. Too much heat can provide a welcoming environment for bacteria that can cause vaginal burning. Don't wear underwear that is too tight. Wear underwear made of breathable fabrics. Change your underwear every day.
- Use tampons instead of pads. Pads and Menstrual blood can cause excess irritation. Tampons are the superior choice if this applies to you.
- If you are experiencing burning, avoid sex until the symptoms subside. When you do engage in sexual activity, use protection to limit the chances of STIs.
- Perform self-checks. You should be vigilant about irregularities. Check yourself periodically to ensure nothing seems amiss. If something is out of the ordinary, consult your doctor to find out what you should do next.