Pregnant women often experience vaginal itching in the last month of pregnancy. What could be causing it?
Vaginal itching is not uncommon among women, even when they are not pregnant, and it is frequently attributed to factors such as inadequate hygiene or gynecological issues. Nevertheless, when it arises during the last month of pregnancy, it can potentially have significant repercussions for both the mother and the fetus.
There are various reasons why pregnant women may encounter vaginal itching during the final month of pregnancy. These causes encompass endocrine disorders, nutritional deficiencies, inadequate hygiene, vaginitis, urinary tract infections, and infectious diseases. These causes can be categorized into two groups: physiological and pathological.
Physiological causes pertain to factors related to the pregnant mother’s physical health and physiology. They typically do not pose a threat to the health of the mother or the baby. However, if vaginal itching arises due to a deficiency in certain substances or poor hygiene, it is crucial for the pregnant mother to address these underlying issues.
Stretching is a primary cause of vaginal itching in pregnant women during the last month of pregnancy. As the uterus expands in size and the mother gains weight in the final months of pregnancy, the skin throughout the body, including the intimate area, undergoes stretching. Regions such as the pubic area, groin, and hips are particularly susceptible to stretching, and when stretched beyond their limits, the skin may develop cracks, leading to uncomfortable itching or even a burning sensation. Vaginal stretch marks resemble the stretch marks found on other parts of the body and are typically pink or reddish-brown in color, resembling scars.
It is important to note that causes of vaginal itching during the last month of pregnancy are observed in approximately 20% of pregnant women.
Endocrine disorders, such as morning sickness and insomnia, can be particularly discomforting for pregnant women, especially in the final month of pregnancy. Vaginal itching during this period can also serve as a symptom of endocrine disorders.
Endocrine disorders involve alterations in hormone levels, particularly progesterone and estrogen, within the mother’s body. During the latter stages of pregnancy, these hormones are highly active and contribute to the release of a substantial amount of fluid, which disrupts the pH balance in the vaginal area. This persistent moisture can create an environment conducive to bacterial growth and infections, resulting in uncomfortable itching.
To alleviate itching resulting from endocrine disorders, pregnant women should practice proper hygiene in the intimate area, avoid overly deep douching, and change their underwear regularly to maintain dryness. They should also employ a cleansing solution specifically formulated for pregnant women, designed to maintain the appropriate pH level. Additionally, expecting mothers should prioritize rest, stay well-hydrated, and manage stress to promote overall well-being.
Increased Secretory Glands Activity
As the due date for the baby approaches, the secretory glands in the mother’s body become more active, leading to increased fluid production. The vaginal secretory glands generate a significant amount of lubricating discharge in the final days of pregnancy to facilitate childbirth. These fluids exit the vagina, causing dampness, which can subsequently lead to itching and discomfort.
Moreover, the sweat glands in the groin and along the sides of the labia majora become more active, resulting in heightened moisture levels. This increased perspiration renders the intimate area more susceptible to infections and bacterial growth, potentially leading to rashes and itching.
Elevated Blood Vessel Density in the Skin
Similarly to hormonal fluctuations and heightened secretory gland activity, an increase in blood vessel density in the skin can also contribute to vaginal itching in pregnant women during the last month of pregnancy. The body requires heightened blood vessel density in the skin to support metabolic processes and essential functions, including the skin in the groin region and pubic area. This inadvertently results in many women experiencing vaginal itching as they approach the final month of pregnancy.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin, is an essential nutrient with a crucial role in cell production and the promotion of healthy skin, hair, and nails. Pregnant women who lack sufficient vitamin B12 may experience itching in the intimate area and other areas of the skin. Additional potential symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, numbness in the hands and feet, pale skin, glossitis, constipation, loss of appetite, and even vision impairment. However, these symptoms can resemble those of general poor health, so it is essential for pregnant women to remain vigilant and seek timely medical attention.
Pregnant women grappling with vaginal itching during the final month of pregnancy due to vitamin B12 deficiency should incorporate foods rich in this vitamin into their diet. Some examples of vitamin B12-rich foods suitable for pregnant women include animal liver, beef, clams, salmon, milk, eggs, and fortified cereals.
Poor hygiene practices can also contribute to vaginal itching during the last month of pregnancy for expectant mothers. The enlarged belly during pregnancy can make it challenging for women to bend over, complicating regular intimate area cleaning. The use of shower gels, cleaning solutions containing harsh detergents, or deep douching can exacerbate irritation in this already sensitive region.
To prevent vaginal itching in the final month of pregnancy, pregnant women should maintain regular daily hygiene routines for the intimate area. It is advisable to use a gentle, pH-balanced, natural, and organic cleansing solution. Additionally, opting for loose-fitting underwear can enhance comfort and provide a cooling effect.
Causes of Vaginal Itching During Pregnancy
As previously discussed, vaginal itching occurring in the last month of pregnancy due to physiological factors may not pose a threat to the well-being of the mother and the baby. However, if the underlying cause is a medical condition, it is crucial for pregnant women to accurately identify it and seek prompt medical attention.
Folliculitis is a condition characterized by the blockage of hair follicles by sweat, bacteria, or debris. Pregnant women in their fourth month may experience this condition due to increased activity of sweat glands, resulting in blocked pores. Aside from experiencing itching and discomfort, pregnant women may develop pustules and red acne as a result of bacterial and debris buildup, causing irritation and moisture on the skin.
Vaginitis is a condition in which the skin is attacked by bacteria, fungi, or parasites, leading to inflammation. Candida fungi, gonococcal bacteria, or bacterial vaginosis bacteria are common culprits of this condition. Vaginitis symptoms can often be vague and easily mistaken for typical pregnancy symptoms, potentially delaying diagnosis. Therefore, routine prenatal check-ups are essential for pregnant women to detect any infections and seek timely treatment.
When pregnant women experience vaginal itching in the last month of pregnancy due to vaginitis, medication is the typical course of treatment. Pregnant women may use oral or vaginal pills for direct relief. However, it is crucial to emphasize that pregnant women should refrain from self-medication and strictly adhere to their doctor’s guidance, especially during pregnancy when drug use may carry potential side effects.
Additionally, pregnant women can take preventive measures against vaginitis, including:
- Maintaining proper intimate area hygiene and avoiding deep vaginal douching.
- Selecting breathable underwear with good moisture absorption.
- Avoiding the use of cleaning solutions and soaps containing harsh detergents.
- Limiting sugar and sweets intake, as they can increase vaginal secretions.
- Incorporating ample yogurt consumption, known for its effectiveness in preventing gynecological inflammation.
- If experiencing gynecological inflammation, abstaining from sexual intercourse.
Urinary Tract Infection in the Vagina
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) within the vaginal region are also a common cause of itching during the final months of pregnancy. In the third trimester, the uterus tends to tilt towards the right, exerting pressure on the ureter and the right kidney. This can result in water retention, nephritis, urine stagnation, and the creation of an environment conducive to bacterial proliferation. Additionally, due to the close proximity of the vagina and anus, diseases can easily spread from one area to another.
Pregnant women with urinary tract infections may experience difficulty urinating, frequent urges to urinate with minimal output, painful urination, frequent urination, bladder straining, lower abdominal discomfort, and the presence of pink urine due to blood.
To prevent urinary tract infections and intimate area itching during the final month of pregnancy, pregnant women can adopt several preventive measures, including:
- Routinely checking urine during each prenatal visit.
- Staying well-hydrated by drinking ample water and incorporating a variety of fruit juices into their diet.
- Urinating promptly when the urge arises and avoiding prolonged holding of urine to prevent urine stagnation.
- Practicing thorough hygiene, particularly in the genital and anal areas, after each toilet use.
- Seeking prompt treatment for any gynecological conditions, such as vaginal infections or cervicitis, to prevent potential spread to the urinary tract.
Pubic Lice Infestation
The dense and coarse pubic hair provides an ideal habitat for the parasite Phthirus pubis, which can cause pubic lice infestation. Phthirus pubis is a blood-sucking parasite that inflicts pubic lice. These parasites commonly reside on hairs or burrow under the skin, excreting waste on human skin, which leads to irritation, blistering, and itching in the intimate area.
Pubic lice infestation is a sexually transmitted infection. If pregnant women contract pubic lice, they may become anemic as the parasites feed on their blood. Consequently, in addition to treating and cleaning the pubic area, pregnant women should enhance their intake of foods that boost blood production. Anemia poses risks to both the mother and the fetus.
Pregnant women experiencing vaginal itching during the last month of pregnancy may have contracted sexually transmitted infections. Common examples of these diseases include genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, and genital herpes. These diseases may result from either previous or newly acquired infections.
Symptoms of these diseases often encompass a burning sensation in the intimate area, vulvar swelling and redness, cloudy white discharge, pain during urination, as well as pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse.
Hemorrhoids can also contribute to vaginal itching during the final month of pregnancy, particularly in pregnant women with a history of hemorrhoids, especially external ones. Enlarged, swollen hemorrhoids can lead to pain, bleeding, excessive discharge, and moisture in the private area, ultimately resulting in itching.
Can vaginal itching be dangerous for pregnant women in the last month of pregnancy?
Vaginal itching during the last month of pregnancy may have different causes and consequences. If it is due to physiological reasons, it is generally not harmful to the mother or the fetus. However, if it is caused by nutrient deficiency or poor hygiene, pregnant women should improve their nutrition and hygiene habits.
On the other hand, if vaginal itching is caused by a medical condition, such as a sexually transmitted infection, it can directly affect the health of both the mother and the baby.
Effects on pregnant women
Vaginal itching can significantly impact the daily life of pregnant women, causing discomfort and reducing their quality of life. This is particularly challenging in the last stage of pregnancy when women already face numerous unpleasant changes.
Moreover, a damp and uncomfortable environment can promote the growth of bacteria and fungi, leading to further gynecological issues.
If the mother is taking western medicine to treat a wet vagina due to a medical condition, it may impact the fetus to some extent.
Effects on the unborn baby
Untreated vaginal itching during the last month of pregnancy can have detrimental effects on the fetus. It can make the mother feel tired, uncomfortable, and suffer from a lack of appetite. Consequently, the mother might not get the necessary nutrients leading to fetal malnutrition.
Moreover, if pregnant women take drugs without following a doctor’s instructions, it can harm the development of the fetus’s heart, bones, and brain.
If the condition remains untreated, bacteria can transmit from the mother to the baby during vaginal birth, which can increase the risk of inflammatory diseases related to the skin, respiratory tract, and eyes in newborns.
What can pregnant women do to alleviate vaginal itching in the last month of pregnancy?
In addition to the treatments mentioned for each potential cause, there are several steps pregnant women can take to alleviate vaginal itching during the final month of pregnancy. These include:
Maintaining Proper Intimate Hygiene
Pregnant women should pay close attention to intimate hygiene to prevent gynecological issues, including vaginal itching in the last month of pregnancy. Here are some recommendations:
- Clean the intimate area at least once daily using clean water.
- Avoid douching during pregnancy.
- Clean the intimate area after using the toilet or engaging in sexual activity.
- Carefully review the ingredients of shower gels and cleansing solutions before use, avoiding those with high irritants.
- Wear clean, roomy, and breathable clothing, and change underwear regularly.
Pregnant women can also explore natural methods like betel leaves, green tea leaves, and saltwater for cleansing the intimate area.
Adopting a Healthier Lifestyle and Diet
Pregnant women can reduce vaginal itching by embracing a healthier lifestyle and a more nutritious diet. This includes adhering to a daily routine and ensuring a regular sleep pattern of at least 8 hours per day. Gentle exercise, avoidance of heavy labor, and regular yoga practice are encouraged. Maintaining a diet rich in nutritious foods such as eggs, milk, sweet potatoes, beans, green vegetables, lean meats, and salmon is crucial. Daily consumption of yogurt can provide beneficial bacteria for the body and help combat infectious agents. It’s also advisable to limit the intake of sugary foods, red meat, seafood, and the like.
Medication for Treating Diseases
If vaginal itching during the last month of pregnancy results from a gynecological ailment, pregnant women may require medication for treatment. Doctors will prescribe suitable medications to ensure the safety of the fetus, such as antifungal drugs, antibiotics, or itch relievers. Oral pills are generally avoided due to potential risks to the fetus.
Folk Remedies for Alleviating Vaginal Itching in Late Pregnancy
If you are experiencing vaginal itching during the final month of pregnancy, there are three folk remedies considered safe for pregnant women:
Green Tea Remedy
Green tea contains EGCG, which possesses antibacterial, antioxidant, and skin-protective properties. Pregnant women can create a diluted green tea solution and use it to cleanse the intimate area 2 to 3 times a day. This method can be an effective way to alleviate vaginal itching in the last month of pregnancy.
Diluted Saltwater Remedy
Diluted saline solution is commonly employed for wound disinfection and can be used to disinfect the skin in the intimate area, reducing itching and discomfort. Pregnant women can mix 9 grams of salt with 1 liter of water and use it for cleansing 2 to 3 times a week.
By sharing these folk remedies, we aim to assist pregnant women dealing with vaginal itching in the last month of pregnancy. It’s important to note that these remedies may not be effective for everyone, and consulting with a healthcare professional before attempting any new treatments is always advisable.
Johnny Jacks was born in 1985 in Texas, USA. He is the founder of Good Health Plan and is passionate about helping people improve their health and physical well-being. With over a decade of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently works at Goodheathplan.com – a blog that shares knowledge on beauty and health.