If you’re waiting for the red flood gates to open and have an itch you really need to scratch down there, it’s most likely any itching before your period is PMS related.

Thanks to hormonal shifts, vaginal itching — which you may notice inside the vagina, on your vulva, labia, or around your nether regions in general — can happen right before your period makes its monthly debut. But the itching may also signal something more serious like an infection.

Here’s what could be causing that unbearable itch.

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Vaginal dryness

Around ovulation, estrogen levels rise hella high and then fall quickly in the days before your period. This may explain vaginal dryness around this time, and it can make things like day-to-day operations and sex not just itchy, but also painful.

Vaginal dryness is also something someone can feel as they approach menopause or for someone who has recently pushed out a little human or has been breastfeeding.

Inflammation

Inflammation levels may climb and then drop during your menstrual cycle. Researchers think this may explain why some people with chronic illnesses see worsened symptoms before or during their period.

This may also account for those with skin conditions, allergies, or skin irritation noticing worsening symptoms and itchiness before their period too, but the research around this is not yet understood and needs more investigation.

Irritation

Undies, period products, scented lotions and sprays, really anything that comes into contact with your hoo-ha can sometimes chafe or irritate it. This can lead to that pesky itch.

Some period products contain ingredients that may cause irritation and itchiness. Or, you’re just getting a bad case of pad rash as you play it safe before things start flowing.

Tampons also don’t just absorb period blood, they also soak up natural vag lubrication, which can make you dry and itchy.

Scented products can also irritate your vag and mess with your natural pH, especially if you have skin sensitivities or allergies. Save your favorite scents for your candle collection rather than your vag, it may tame the itch.

And reminder: you should clean yourself with just warm water, your vag doesn’t need a douche or fancy soap… like ever.

Yeast infection

Itching can def be a sign of a good ol’ yeast infection (ugh!). This fungal infection is unfortunately common AF and can happen at any point during your menstrual cycle as your hormones change. You can also get it from having sex.

Signs you may have a yeast infection include:

  • itchy vag and vulva
  • swollen vulva
  • thick, cottage cheese-like discharge

Other things like pregnancy, diabetes and using antibiotics can also bring on the yeast.

BV

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an overgrowth of natural vag bacteria and is actually the most common vaginal infection for people aged 15 to 44.

Symptoms can be worse before your period and include:

  • fishy smells down below (most notably post-sex)
  • itching or burning
  • pain in the vaginal area
  • thin, white or gray discharge

Right now, we don’t know the exact causes of BV, but we do know that some vag activities like douching can probably increase the chance of getting it. Don’t douche, friends!

Cyclic vulvovaginitis

This vaginal infection can be chronic and flare up before or during your period, with little-to-no symptoms between periods.

Someone dealing with cyclic vulvovaginitis may experience symptoms like:

  • burning, stinging, or itching just before a period
  • worsening symptoms after sex
  • foul smelling discharge
  • pain when peeing

There’s a slew of factors to blame for this infection. Just about any changes in the vagina’s complicated bacterial balance can trigger it.

Some chemical products, chronic illnesses, antibiotics, and hormonal contraceptives may have a hand in it too. Seeing your doctor to find the cause behind the imbalance can help you get proper treatment.

Trichomoniasis

This is a common STI that gets your vulva or vagina itching real bad. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.7 million people in the U.S have trich at any time.

Symptoms usually pop up somewhere between 5 and 28 days after infection, and unfortunately, as the CDC points out, only 30 percent of people with trich report symptoms at all.

Aside from itching, other symptoms include:

  • burning during sex or peeing
  • frothy-looking vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell
  • vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • peeing frequently

Fortunately, trich can be treated with antibiotics. Get to your doctor right away if you think you might have it.

STIs

Sometimes, itching is thanks to an STI like gonorrhea, which also has discharge and a foul odor tag along too.

STIs don’t normally worsen before a period, but some people can have symptoms sprout up before their flow.

Most STIs can be treated but you shouldn’t wait around to see your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

PMDD

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) involves physical and mental symptoms that happen about a week before your period and last up until the end of it. In a nutshell, it’s an extreme version of PMS.

Some PMDD symptoms that affect your emotions and mental health include:

Physical symptoms of PMDD can include:

If you think you may experience PMDD, talk to your doctor and consider seeing a therapist to help manage the emotional symptoms.

It’s important to see your doc if you’re suspicious all this itching is thanks to an STI, BV, or reoccurring yeast infections. You’ll need specific meds for these and won’t be able to take care of it at home.

Other symptoms that def warrant a visit to your doc include:

  • green, yellow, or gray vaginal discharge
  • cottage cheese-like or frothy discharge
  • pain or burning when peeing
  • pain or burning during sex
  • swollen vulva
  • foul-smelling discharge

Itchy vaginas are a pain, but they don’t have to stay that way. Here are some simple home remedies to get some sweet relief.

  • Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear (sexy!) and avoid tight denim and pantyhose.
  • Avoid douching (please don’t make us say it again!) and wash your vulva gently without scented products.
  • Take a baking soda sitz bath.
  • Use unscented period products.
  • Try an over-the-counter (OTC) hydrocortisone cream (but only use it on surface area, do not put it inside your vagina!).

If a yeast infection is a culprit, you can get relief from OTC antifungal products or by visiting your doctor for an oral solution if your yeast infections are frequent.

Itchiness before your period is annoying as hell but pretty common and usually an easy fix.

This is usually easily treatable at home, but if you think an infection could be to blame (and notice that the itchiness isn’t letting up), it’s time to chat with your doctor to help get some relief.