a woman in bed in an article about vulvar itching that's worse at night
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Here’s Why Your Vagina Itches At Night, According To Experts

Is there anything more irritating?

by Steph Montgomery
Originally Published: 

If you have a vagina, then chances are vaginal itching is no mystery to you. What might be an enigma, however, is the intensity of that vaginal or vulvar itching at night. So, if you've ever asked yourself, “why does my vagina itch at night?’ you aren't alone. Fortunately, there are ways to soothe your itchy vagina or itchy vulva, once you figure out what’s going on down there. And there’s a very simple reason that it’s worse at night.

To learn more about vaginal itching, Romper spoke with Dr. Patrice Harold, Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Detroit Medical Center’s Hutzel Women's Hospital, Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, MD, an OB-GYN based in Greenville, Mississippi, and Dr. Sonia Bahlani, MD, an OB-GYN and pelvic pain specialist based in New York City.

Why does it feel like vulvar itching is worse at night?

As for why your vagina seems more itchy at night, Harold says “things tend to worsen at night because of increased awareness."“During the day, we're usually moving around, focusing on other things, and are essentially preoccupied enough to overlook our symptoms. “Once you lie down at night and relax, your senses tend to become heightened,” Harold explains.

Simply winding down at the end of the day might not be the only reason why your vagina itches at night, according to Bahlani. “It could be the body's natural circadian rhythm, an increase in inflammation at night, an increase in awareness, less distractions, or a change in temperature and moisture at night.”

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What causes vaginal or vulvar itching?

Unfortunately, according to Harold, a whole host of factors might be responsible for the irritation you're experiencing at night. “Vaginal itching can be internal (vaginal) or external (vulvar, labial or perineal)," she says. “Common causes for external itching can be from contact irritation, like chemicals from soap, detergents, clothing, or infections, such as yeast infections, crabs, or scabies.”

Vaginal yeast infections are a common cause of an itchy vagina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and a reported 1.4 million people go to the doctor each year to treat a yeast infection, which doesn't account for the unknown number of people treating their symptoms at home with over-the-counter remedies.

In short, the list of possible causes of vulvar itching is long, says Dr. Kirsten Phillips, OB GYN at Corewell Health. Some of the most common causes of vulvar itching (whether it feels worse at night or not) include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Trapped sweat
  • Folliculitis from shaving
  • Pubic hair
  • Yeast

“If this is persistent, however,” Phillips adds, “it is important to have this evaluated as there are some more serious autoimmune conditions that can cause this.”

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Does sex make vaginal itching worse?

Richardson adds that increased irritation at night may have to do with other bedroom activities, namely sex. “Sex can make symptoms worse. The vaginal tissue is very sensitive and when it is irritated the sensitivity increases," she says. Harold agrees, and says that "sex can also cause friction and worsen the symptoms of itching. It is best avoid sexual intercourse until the cause of the itching is diagnosed and treated."

Sex can worsen your symptoms because it can and often does alter the pH of the vagina, according to Bahlani. If there is less lactobacillus (good bacteria protecting vagina) in your vagina as the result of having sex, you're prone to more infections. Bahlani says that in order to help prevent an itchy vagina, “lubes are super important. Also, protect the pH of the vagina — no douching.”

It's also helpful to pay attention to your body and any changes to your routine. “When you begin to have symptoms of vaginal itching or irritation, it's best review your history,” Harold says. "Have you changed soaps or bath products, any new laundry detergents, are you wearing more tight fitting clothes? If so, avoid those products or clothing and if there is still no improvement, seek out medical attention.”

If vulvar itching is worse at night, home remedies may help

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It is safe to use over-the-counter creams externally to relieve itching, according to Richardson. But she also says that while a cream might relieve the symptoms, it will not treat the cause of the itching. “It is still important to follow up with your healthcare provider as soon as possible,” she says.

And, the absolute worst thing you can do for an itchy vagina is scratch it, tempting as it is. “Don't scratch," Richardson warns. “Scratching makes the irritation worse and can cause breaks in the skin that increase the risk of secondary bacterial infections.”

When to call your doctor

If you have an itchy vagina there’s no need to panic, but it is important to pay attention to your body and consult a physician if necessary. “Remember that, as patients, you know your body best,” Bahlani says. “If something seems off, if the itching is unrelenting, lasts over 24-48 hours, or is not helped by over-the-counter meds, I would seek medical attention.”

Our other experts agree. “When vulvar itching is persistent for more than a couple days or severe, they should call their doctor,” Phillips reiterates. Listen to your body, and if you’re worried or just tired of being uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to contact your health care provider.


Dr. Kirsten Phillips, OB GYN at Corewell Health

Dr. Patrice Harold, MD, Director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at Detroit Medical Center's Hutzel Women's Hospital

Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, MD, an OB-GYN based in Greenville, Mississippi

Dr. Sonia Bahlani, MD, an OB-GYN and pelvic pain specialist based in New York City

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