Aunt Vadge: When I get my period, my vagina burns

Hello Aunt Vadge,

Is vaginal burning normal during menstruation? I got my period today which I haven’t had for three months, since I am on a extended-cycle birth control pill. I am having burning, cramps and normal bleeding. I have had slight burning during my cycle in the past, but never this much. Is this normal?

Age: 20
Country/Area: USA

Dear Burning,

It is not normal to have a burning vagina or vulva during your period. You may have what’s known as cyclical vulvovaginitis – symptoms of vulvovaginal irritation that occur as part of your menstrual cycle,usually caused by an underlying yeast infection. But, it’s worth investigating the other possible causes of your burning vagina.

#1. You may be allergic or hypersensitive to your tampons or pads. To establish if this is true, change brands and find a hypoallergenic organic brand of tampon or pad, or switch to a silicone menstrual cup.

#2. You may have a blip in your nervous system during your period that causes a sensation of burning in your vagina. When you look at how many nerves and organs are in your pelvis, it quickly becomes clear that things can easily go awry, especially during a period of inflammation in the area like during your period. Do you have any other signs or symptoms? These might include stiffness, other tingling, coldness, hotness or numbness anywhere, pain, aches, etc. Consider seeing an osteopath or pelvic physiotherapist who can check you and adjust you as necessary. Sometimes nerves can be pressed in one area (say by inflammation in your uterus, that causes swelling and pressure to be applied to a nerve) causing a sensation in another area.

#3. You may have an underlying infection in your vagina, like a yeast infection, causing the burning sensation. This could also include sexually transmitted infections. You would be wise to get tested and treated if you haven’t already.

#4. It could be hormonal, though once you get your period, all your hormones drop off and your cycle starts again, and being on hormonal birth control interrupts this significantly, levelling out your hormones. Typically cyclical hormonal problems tend to occur when oestrogen is at its peak, or if you are missing certain hormones from your cycle (such as progesterone, when using certain types of birth control). It is a possible avenue to explore down the track if nothing else helps, possibly considering a change in birth control.

It is not normal to get burning during your period, but it also doesn’t sound like something super serious, since it only happens during your period, cyclically. Something is getting exacerbated.

Let me know what it turns out to be!

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge