Itching in the genital area can be a symptom of many different sexually transmitted diseases. However, there are also other reasons for itching in this area, such as skin conditions or irritation from certain hygiene products or clothing.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two bacterial STDs that can cause itching down there, as well as other symptoms like painful intercourse and vaginal discharge. They can also lead to sex changes and infertility if left untreated.
Chlamydia is caused by the obligate intracellular Gram negative bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis. It’s one of four strains of this bacterium that causes eye infections (trachoma) and genital infection. Other STIs caused by this bacterium include gonorrhea, lymphogranuloma venereum, and CMV papillomavirus.
Chlamydia can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex, sex with toys, contact between an infected person and their partner’s mouth or penis, and when an infected person touches their eyes. This infection can also be transmitted to the unborn baby through birth. If not treated, chlamydia can lead to long-term pelvic inflammatory disease in women and can cause infertility. It can also cause itching in the vulva or rectum area as well as pain when urinating, discharge from the anus or vagina, and spotting after sex.
Symptoms can be hard to notice, but a healthcare provider can test for the infection using a sample from the cervix, throat, anus or penis or by performing a simple urine sample. This test is easy and non-invasive. It’s important for people to know that chlamydia is treatable and that it’s not something they should be embarrassed about. Educating patients about this can help them agree to screening when they might otherwise hesitate out of fear of an exam. Educated patients can also learn how to use condoms during sex or practice safe sex to prevent getting an STI.
Gonorrhea is an STD caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. It can be transmitted through condomless oral, anal, and vaginal sex. Itching down there and between the thighs is often the first symptom of this infection.
Gonorrhoea can infect the mucous membranes in men and women’s reproductive organs, throats, urethras, and rectums. It can also cause a swollen scrotum in men. It can be diagnosed with a lab test. The test requires a sample from the urethra (for men) or cervix or vagina (for women).
Some people don’t have symptoms, especially those with anal sex. Symptoms of gonorrhea in men include pain when urinating, itching around the penis or scrotum, and a milky discharge. Those with a throat or rectal infection may have a sore throat.
Gonorrhea treatment usually involves antibiotics. It’s important to take the full course of the treatment so that the bacteria are eliminated completely. It’s also important to inform your sexual partners about the infection so they can be treated, too. It’s recommended that you and your sexual partners abstain from all non-barrier methods of sex until seven days after your treatment is finished. Doing so will help lower the risk of passing the infection to the baby if you’re pregnant. This can lead to health problems for the newborn. Also, one successful treatment doesn’t protect you forever; you must continue using barrier protection every time you have sex to prevent the infection from coming back.
Trichomonas vaginalis is a one-celled parasite that infects the lower part of the genital tract. Itching is a common symptom. Women may experience vaginal itching, pelvic pain or urinary tract infections (UTIs). Men may develop a foul-smelling discharge, testicular pain or epididymitis.
The infection can be spread during unprotected sex and oral sex. It can also be transmitted to other parts of the body, including the chest, stomach, arms and hands. The itching can last up to three months, but it goes away with proper treatment.
Untreated trichomoniasis can increase the risk of other STIs, including HIV. It can also lead to complications during pregnancy and birth, especially in women.
To diagnose trichomoniasis, your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms and sexual history. They will also perform a physical exam of the vulva or penis and check for patchy red spots. They may also take a sample of your discharge for testing.
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to kill the parasite and treat your trichomoniasis. These medications are usually taken as pills or capsules, but they can be also used in the form of a vaginal cream or suppository. In addition to treating trichomoniasis, your doctor will recommend safe sex practices to help prevent reinfection. These include using protection, getting tested regularly and discussing your sexual history with your partner.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STI). More than 100 different types of HPV exist, and most don’t cause any symptoms. However, some HPV types can lead to genital warts and cancer of the cervix and anus. Itching may be one of the first symptoms of HPV infection.
HPV is spread through close skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. It’s also possible to get genital HPV from kissing or using a toothbrush or tampon. Using barrier protection during sexual activity can lower your risk of getting genital HPV, but it’s not a 100% guarantee.
Most people who have genital HPV don’t experience any symptoms, so they’re not aware of their infection. It takes years, even decades for some high-risk types of HPV to grow into pre-cancerous cells that can become cancerous.
Some of the other STDs that can cause itching include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes and Trichomoniasis. Itching can also be a symptom of thrush, jock itch or ringworm of the groin (tinea cruris). Irritation of the vulva or penis from chemicals in soaps, detergents, perfumes and other household products can also cause genital itching. Itching is common during menopause because of a drop in estrogen levels, leading to dry skin. Itching in the genital area can also occur because of friction from tight underwear or sex toys.