Aunt Vadge: is stress and anxiety affecting my vagina?

Hello Aunt Vadge! 

Can anxiety/stress impact the health of your vaginal?

I have been having awful cyclical discharge, itching and pain for the last month and a bit, but have tested negative for thrush and BV. It is making me more anxious and more stressed – and it seems to be getting worse.

Age: 21
Country: Scotland

Hello Stressed,

Absolutely, anxiety and stress can indeed have an impact on your vaginal health. Stress affects the body in numerous ways, and the vaginal area is no exception.

Stress and anxiety can disrupt your hormonal balance​1–3​, affect your immune system​4,5​, and even change the balance of bacteria in your vagina​6,7​, theoretically leading to vaginal symptoms, but I must stress, this is NOT normally why people end up with vaginal symptoms.

It sounds like you already had the vaginal symptoms, and all the tests are coming back negative, and nobody is providing you with any further options. Anyone in their right mind would get anxious!

Pain, discharge and itching can be caused by other problems other than microbiome disturbances, but to rule that out, first it might be useful to get a comprehensive vaginal microbiome test (order online) and see what is actually in your vagina. Just because it’s not BV or yeast doesn’t mean it’s not something else.

Then please feel free to book in with a My Vagina expert to go over your results, and we can provide treatment strategies for you.

It’s most important to solve your vaginal problems first – they are NOT caused by anxiety. You’re not ‘giving’ yourself your vagina problems by being anxious.

But, it’s a bit of a vicious circle because these symptoms can cause further stress and anxiety, which then potentially exacerbates the issue. Here are a few considerations to potentially help break this cycle:

  1. Stress Management: Finding effective ways to manage your stress is essential. This can include regular exercise, mindfulness or meditation, adequate sleep, and perhaps some counselling or therapy, which can really help in managing anxiety and stress levels.
  2. Dietary Considerations: Pay attention to your diet, as some foods can influence your body’s pH levels, leading to a disruption of the vaginal flora. Foods rich in probiotics, like natural yoghurt or kefir, can often be helpful.
  3. Gentle Hygiene: Make sure you’re practicing gentle hygiene. Over-washing or using harsh soaps can disturb the natural environment of your vagina, leading to irritation and discomfort.
  4. Loose Clothing: Wear breathable, natural fibres and avoid tight clothing, which can trap moisture and contribute to irritation.
  5. Avoid Irritants: If you are using any products like scented body washes, sprays, or deodorants around your vagina, stop. These can cause irritation and alter the natural pH.
  6. Mindful Sexual Activity: If you are sexually active, ensure you are using protection to prevent infections and avoid any products or activities that might be causing irritation.

Remember, it’s important to take care of your mental health just as you would your physical health. A healthcare provider can also suggest strategies or treatments to help manage the stress that’s playing a role in your symptoms.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out for medical support, especially if the symptoms are causing you distress. You don’t have to navigate this alone!

Best wishes,
Aunt Vadge


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    Turpin R, Slopen N, Borgogna JLC, et al. Perceived Stress and Molecular Bacterial Vaginosis in the National Institutes of Health Longitudinal Study of Vaginal Flora. American Journal of Epidemiology. Published online May 19, 2021:2374-2383. doi:10.1093/aje/kwab147
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    Amabebe E, Anumba DOC. Psychosocial Stress, Cortisol Levels, and Maintenance of Vaginal Health. Front Endocrinol. Published online September 24, 2018. doi:10.3389/fendo.2018.00568