Vaginal itchiness before a period can have various causes. These include hormonal shifts, irritation, and infections, among others. Treatment may involve topical products or medications.

An itchy vagina is not always a sign of an underlying condition, but it can be. Yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV), and some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause itchiness. If itchiness occurs at the same point during every menstrual cycle, this could be cyclic vulvovaginitis.

A doctor can determine the cause of an itchy vagina and recommend the best treatments.

This article discusses possible causes of vaginal itching before a period, as well as some treatment options and home remedies.

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The sections below look at some potential causes of vaginal itching before a period in more detail.

Vaginal dryness

Estrogen levels peak around ovulation then fall rapidly in the days leading up to a period. This can cause vaginal dryness, which may lead to itchiness or pain, especially during sex.

A person approaching menopause may also experience vaginal dryness. Sometimes, people who have recently given birth also notice dryness while they are postpartum or nursing.

Period products

Some period products that a person may wear just before their period could cause irritation. For example, if a person is not yet bleeding but wears a tampon in preparation, the tampon could absorb natural moisture from the vagina. This could result in dryness or itchiness.

Similarly, pads, soaps, lubricants, and other products people apply to the genitals could cause irritation if they contain fragrances, dyes, or other additives. Toilet paper, clothing, and laundry detergents could also cause reactions.


There is evidence to suggest that menstruation increases skin sensitivity. A small older study from 1991 found that people on the first day of their menstrual cycle were much more likely to experience skin irritation than at later points in their cycle.

This could be due to inflammation. A 2023 review notes that inflammation levels rise and fall during a person’s menstrual cycle, increasing in the premenstrual phase. This could be why some people with chronic illnesses notice that their symptoms worsen before or during their period.

If a person already has sensitive skin, allergies, or a skin condition, it is possible that inflammation levels before a period could make their symptoms worse and cause itchiness. However, this is still a growing area of research, so scientists do not yet understand the connection fully.

Yeast infection

It is typical to have some yeasts on the skin and in the vagina, but if a person’s vaginal flora becomes imbalanced or its pH level is not acidic enough, this can allow the yeast to overgrow. This can result in yeast infections, or vaginal thrush.

Vaginal thrush causes:

  • itchiness
  • inflammation
  • thick, cottage cheese-like discharge
  • pain during sex

People who are pregnant, have diabetes, have a weakened immune system, or are taking antibiotics are more likely to get yeast infections, but it can happen to anyone. Antifungal medications and creams can treat it.

Learn more about the types of vaginal discharge.

Cyclic vulvovaginitis

Cyclic vulvovaginitis is a type of chronic inflammation that reoccurs at the same point in a person’s menstrual cycle each month. A person with cyclic vulvovaginitis may experience:

  • burning, itching, or stinging just before a period
  • symptoms that worsen after sexual activity
  • few or no symptoms between periods

There are several potential causes for this condition. Sensitivity to reproductive hormones changing over the cycle, or disruptions in vaginal flora, could play a role. Doctors treat this condition by finding and addressing the cause of the imbalance.


BV is a bacterial infection of the vagina. It is also the most common type of vaginal infection in females ages 15–44 years.

Many people with this infection notice a strong fishy odor, especially after sex. Sometimes, the symptoms worsen at certain points in a person’s cycle, such as before a period.

Some people with BV notice only an odor, but others may experience:

  • itching or burning
  • pain
  • thin white or gray discharge

Doctors do not always understand what causes BV. However, they do know that changes in a person’s vaginal flora and practices such as douching can increase the likelihood of developing it.

Sexually transmitted infections

STIs, such as gonorrhea, may cause itching, discharge, or an unpleasant odor.

These infections do not usually worsen before or during a person’s period. However, some people may notice symptoms for the first time before their period.

Most STIs are treatable. If a person has any symptoms of an STI, they should contact a doctor for diagnosis.

A doctor may examine the vagina and vulva for discharge, irritation, and injuries. They may also take a swab to test for different types of infection.

If there are no obvious signs of infection or injury, the doctor may recommend that the person keeps a diary of symptoms and lifestyle factors so that they can identify the cause of the itching.

Some companies offer home testing kits that can help diagnose a yeast infection or BV. However, depending on the results, a person may still need to contact a doctor for treatment.

The most suitable treatment for an itchy vagina will depend on the cause. Below are some examples of things that may help:

  • Dryness: Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants may improve dryness before a period or during perimenopause.
  • Irritation: Switching to unscented period products, avoiding tampons before a period begins, and cleaning gently with water may help reduce irritation.
  • Yeast infection: People can try over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal treatments for thrush. However, some people may need prescription medications to treat a chronic or recurring yeast infection.
  • BV and STIs: A doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Different infections respond to different antibiotics, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis and a prescription for the correct antibiotic.
  • Cyclic vulvovaginitis: Cyclic vulvovaginitis has several causes, each with different treatments. For example, antifungals may be necessary if the cause is an overgrowth of yeast. For others, treatments may involve lowering vaginal acidity or medication changes to balance hormones.

A 2022 review found there is some evidence vaginal probiotics may help to treat some infections. However, the microbes in the vagina are complex and varied, so researchers are still learning how different species affect different conditions.

It is not always possible to prevent all cases of vaginal itchiness, but people can take steps to keep their vulva and vagina healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:

  • wearing breathable cotton underwear
  • using water to gently clean the area outside the vagina once a day
  • using unscented period products
  • change period products regularly, according to the instructions
  • drinking enough water

The vagina is self-cleaning, so it is not necessary to use scented products and soaps to clean it. It is also not necessary to douche inside the vagina. This can cause an overgrowth of harmful microbes that may lead to infections.

Scientists do not fully understand the causes of BV. However, BV rarely affects people who have never had sex, so it may be that sex with certain or new partners disrupts the balance of bacteria in the vagina.

Limiting sexual activity, limiting the number of sexual partners, avoiding douching, and using barrier methods of birth control, such as condoms, may help prevent BV. Barrier methods are also essential for preventing STIs.

If a person only experiences vaginal itchiness without any symptoms of an infection, they can try OTC treatments for dryness first. For some, this may be enough to ease symptoms.

However, if a person has any symptoms of an infection, such as odor, discharge, or pain, they should contact a doctor.

Infections such as BV can make it more likely that a person will develop an STI. BV can also affect pregnancy and has links to premature birth and a low birth weight. Some STIs also have long-term effects on the body.

If OTC treatments do not work, or if the symptoms go away and come back, a person should seek medical advice.

An itchy vagina before a period could indicate that someone has vaginal dryness, irritation, or inflammation. Trying OTC remedies, such as vaginal moisturizers, may help ease symptoms. For some individuals, switching personal care products may be necessary.

However, vaginal itching sometimes occurs due to infections or chronic conditions. If a person experiences continuous itching that does not improve with OTC treatments or that occurs with other symptoms, they should contact a doctor.