A reader wrote in:
Question for Matt & Jess: My boyfriend and I have vaginal sex and I just ended my period yesterday, and we had sex. I showered and cleaned my vagina right after, but when I woke up this morning my vagina was irritated and still is. We had sex today, and the same thing happened (irritation and some itchiness) — I took pills for a yeast infection I had last week and it helped it go away. I use Ivory soap, and we use spermicidal lubricated condoms (Trojan) could my vagina be irritated due to those things? Please help me figure this out.
— Female blog visitor, Jan 14, 2014
MATT: Thanks for asking us a question; we are glad to help.
You should see a medical professional, such as your personal doctor, a nurse-practitioner, or even a gynecologist for even minor conditions that you are not sure of. Women need to be aggressive and proactive when they take care of their reproductive health.
There are multiple explanations available. Some women have allergic reactions to spermicides or to latex, resulting in itching and rashes. Ivory soap has perfume which may not agree with sensitive skin. If your sexual relationship began recently, it’s possible that your vagina needs to be “broken in” — that the rashes may be a temporary result of not being used to the intense physical contact of intercourse. If that is it, then the condition will go away on its own, but don’t assume that is the explanation: get medical advice. I’m not sure why yeast infection pills would help with any rash caused by abrasion or allergy, but taking medicines for any purpose other than what they are intended to help with is risky: this is again a question for a medical professional.
I do not recommend that teen girls have intercourse with their boyfriends, but since you have decided to do it, please keep using condoms to protect your health and avoid pregnancy.
JESS: “Douching” is washing or cleaning out the vagina with water or other mixtures of fluids. Most doctors and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that women don’t douche, as it can affect the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in a healthy vagina.
Here are a couple of medical resources on douching (and why it should be avoided):
According to WomensHealth.gov, you can keep the outside of your vagina clean and healthy by washing regularly with warm water and mild soap when you bathe.
If you have sensitive skin, you may be allergic to latex, spermicide, and synthetic chemicals that you find in regular commercial beauty or personal care products. You should also avoid scented tampons, pads, powders, and sprays, as these may increase your chances of getting a vaginal infection.
You could try looking for a mild, all-natural organic soap like Sappo Hill Natural Oatmeal Glycerine Soap (Fragrance Free). Natural lamb skin condoms might be better than spermicidal lubricated condoms too, when it comes to dealing with vaginal irritation.
If the problem persists, you should see a doctor or gynecologist that you trust, so that you can discuss how else the vaginal itching and irritation can be kept at bay.