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vaginal itching
And when it comes to a sensitive area such as the vagina, itching or irritation can be particularly uncomfortable so it's a good idea to find out the cause as soon as possible and sort out treatment if necessary.

Speaking to the NHS, Dr Suzy Elneil, a consultant in urogynaecology and uro-neurology at University College Hospital, London, claims that itching can be a sign of thrush or other infection, but it can also have other causes.

"Itching can be part of a generalised skin problem, such as eczema," she says. "Or it can be a sign of benign or malignant (cancerous) changes to the skin, such as lichen sclerosus or vaginal intra-epithelial neoplasia.

"All need treatment, so if the itch persists for more than a month, get it checked by a GP or gynaecologist. They need to see the vulva, perineum (between the vagina and anus) and the vagina directly."

Vaginal thrush is one of the most common causes of itching or irritation in the genital area. This is a yeast infection that occurs when candida grows excessively in the vagina and vulva, and the NHS estimate it will affect three out of every four women at some point in their lives.

This infection is easily treated with a cream or by taking a course of medicine, so have a word with your pharmacist or GP to discuss your options and get the problem resolved.

Some women find that certain chemical substances found in creams, condoms, contraceptive foams, washing powders, soaps, scented toilet paper and fabric softeners, can irritate the vagina, so it can help to change the products you're using.

Although this isn't always a symptom, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis and gonorrhoea can cause vaginal itching and irritation.

Most of the time STIs can be treated with antibiotics or other medication, but it is important to catch them as soon as you can, as certain infections can cause fertility problems if they're left untreated.

For women who are in their 40s or 50s, it could be that the menopause is causing any itching or irritation of the vagina. At this time in life a drop in oestrogen production occurs, causing the vaginal walls to thin and dry out and possibly leading to feeling or discomfort and itchiness.

How you treat vaginal itching will depend on the causes of the problem, but there are a few things all women can do to keep discomfort to a minimum. It can help to use water and a plain, unscented soap to regularly clean your genital area, while making sure that you change your underwear regularly and opt for cotton material rather than synthetics.