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4th February, 20216 min read

What causes itching after sex and how can you treat it?

Medical reviewer:Dr Ann Nainan
Author:Ana Mosciuk
Last reviewed: 03/02/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone: everyone gets the urge to scratch their genitals once in a while. It’s also quite common to get an itchy vagina or penis after sex, for various reasons.

Some causes are minor and can be treated with a little self-care. Dry skin, a lack of lubrication or too much friction during sex can all cause itching, for example. But if the itch doesn’t go away or happens a lot, it might be caused by an allergy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Keep on reading to find out what might be causing your itch, how you can treat it and what to do to prevent it in future.

Why does my vagina itch after sex?

Sperm allergy

Although it’s rare, it’s possible that you’re allergic to sperm – or more specifically, to proteins contained in the fluid that a penis releases during sex (semen).

One of the most common signs of a sperm allergy is itching, and symptoms usually start around 10 to 30 minutes after sex. You might also get:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • pain
  • burning

You can have these symptoms for a few hours after sex, or they might last for a couple of days. It’s also worth noting that they can happen in any area that has contact with semen, not just in and around the vagina.

If you have a sperm allergy, you won’t necessarily get symptoms every time you have sex. Sometimes you’ll be fine with one person, but have an allergic reaction with another. Symptoms can even appear suddenly after you’ve been with someone for a long time.

Latex allergy

It’s also possible that your itch is caused by an allergy to latex, which is used to make some types of condoms.

If you have sex using a latex condom, vaginal itching is a common early sign of an allergic reaction, along with swelling and redness in the genital area.

STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) pass from person to person through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal or oral sex.

How soon symptoms appear depends on the type of STI. You might notice them a few days or weeks after having sex, but it can be months or even years before you get symptoms.

Itching, burning or tingling around your vagina can be symptoms of several STIs, including genital herpes, warts, pubic lice, scabies and trichomoniasis.

Other signs that you might have an STI include:

  • pain when you pee, during sex or in your lower tummy
  • blisters, sores, spots or lumps around your genitals or anus
  • black powder or white dots in your underwear (signs of pubic lice)
  • yellow, green or smelly vaginal discharge
  • bleeding between your periods or after sex

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor or go to a sexual health clinic, so you can get checked and have treatment if necessary.

Why does my penis itch after sex?

Latex allergy

If you’re allergic to latex, condoms made of latex will cause an allergic reaction. This will happen when the latex comes into contact with your skin, making it red and swollen as well as itchy.

STIs

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can be passed from person to person through vaginal, anal or oral sex.

If you have an STI, it can make your penis and genital area itch, burn or tingle. Itching can be a symptom of genital herpes, warts, pubic lice, scabies and trichomoniasis.

Other signs that you might have an STI include:

  • unusual discharge from your penis
  • pain when you pee
  • irritation of the tube that pee comes out of (urethra)
  • blisters, sores, spots or lumps around your genitals or anus
  • a rash and burning or tingling around your penis
  • black powder or white dots in your underwear (signs of pubic lice)

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or sexual health clinic, so you can get tested and treated, if necessary.

How can you treat and prevent itching after sex?

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to treat and prevent itching after sex, depending on what’s causing it.

If you think you have an allergy, you should speak to your doctor. If you have an allergy, you may be prescribed with an EpiPen, in case you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

If you have a sperm allergy, avoiding contact with semen will avoid an allergic reaction. Using a condom every time you have sex is the easiest way to do this. You may also need to carry an EpiPen in case you have a severe reaction.

If you think you’re allergic to latex, you shouldn’t ignore it, as reactions can get worse over time. So you should avoid contact with any latex products, including latex condoms.

You can switch to using synthetic rubber condoms or natural skin condoms – though the latter aren’t recommended if you want protection from STIs. As with sperm allergy, you may also need to carry an EpiPen in case you have a severe reaction.

Having safe sex by wearing a condom can protect you from getting or passing an STI. Make sure you always use condoms that have been tested to high safety standards – they should have a mark on the packaging that indicates this, such as the European CE mark.

When should you see a doctor about itchy genitals?

If you think you’re having a severe allergic reaction, you should seek immediate medical help and call for an ambulance. You might get a combination of some of the following symptoms:

  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling
  • breathing difficulties
  • wheezing
  • tightness in your chest
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • coughing
  • fast heartbeat
  • clammy skin
  • confusion
  • anxiety
  • losing consciousness
  • stomach pain

If your itching persists or keeps coming back, it’s definitely worth speaking to your doctor, as they can help you work out what’s causing it. You should also see your doctor if:

  • you have symptoms of an STI
  • the person you've had sex with has an STI or symptoms of an STI
  • you’ve had unprotected sex and you’re worried about STIs

Key points

  • itching after sex is quite common, and isn’t always cause for concern
  • it can be caused by dry skin or a lack of lubrication
  • allergies to sperm or latex or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can also cause your penis or vagina to itch
  • as well as protecting against STIs, using a condom can prevent itching caused by a sperm allergy
  • if you’re allergic to latex, you can use synthetic rubber condoms instead
  • see a doctor if you’re worried about an allergy or think you might be at risk of an STI
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