Anxiety has a lot of unusual and upsetting symptoms. But one issue that few people are aware of is the way that anxiety can affect genital health. Studies have shown time and time again that high levels of anxiety and stress affect the body in a myriad of ways, with no place untouched.
Vaginal discomfort is a complicated issue, because in general even anxiety related vaginal discomfort requires a doctor's visit, and it can be hard to diagnose whether the problem is from anxiety or from something else. Yet for better or worse, anxiety has absolutely been linked to women's genital health, and it's something that needs to be controlled if you hope to reduce the discomfort in the future.
Is Anxiety Causing Vaginal Issues?
The female genitals are a complex, self-sustaining instrument, and anything that throws off their balance can lead to vaginal discomfort and related problems. Anxiety and stress throw off your immune system, hormones, and more - all affecting vaginal health.
Take our anxiety symptoms test to see your anxiety severity score, compare it to others, and learn more about the symptoms.
How Stress Causes Vaginal Discomfort
Vaginal discomfort is never the only symptom of anxiety, and that can make it complicated to look at anxiety as the diagnosis for your vaginal problems. Always see a doctor regardless of your anxiety, because in some cases you may need additional treatments. Also, take my free 7 minute anxiety severity test to see how all of the symptoms of anxiety come together, and to learn more about treatments.
Even though you are suffering from anxiety, the main issue here is stress. Anxiety causes stress to be placed on the body, and that stress has a way of altering your body's internal chemistry - including hormones, healthy bacteria, and more.
Vaginal infections, also known as vaginitis, are actually fairly common from stress (as well as poor sleep, which may be related to anxiety). The vagina is filled with healthy and unhealthy bacteria, and generally these are in the perfect balance to maintain vaginal health.
But when you have anxiety, your stress may reduce your body's ability to maintain this balance, and a vaginal infection may be the result. Although it is caused by stress, it may require antibiotics to treat, because the bacterial overgrowth may be hard to contain even if you reduce your anxiety.
Vaginal discharge may also increase as a result of emotional stress (ie, anxiety). Vaginal discharge doesn't necessarily cause "discomfort" within the vaginal walls, but it can cause discomfort, humiliation, and fear for women that find their discharge is making them uncomfortable while out and about.
Though the cause is not entirely clear, it has been found that high amounts of stress can cause itching, burning, and dryness within the vaginal wall. These can all cause significant amount of discomfort, and may be due to the way that anxiety affects hormonal regulation within the body.
Cramping and Pain
Anxiety can occasionally cause excess cramping and pain. Again, this pain may not be centered directly within the genitals, nor is it necessarily related to the muscles in the genital wall, but for many women cramping in the area surrounding the vagina causes increased pressure and pain in the vaginal area as well.
Finally, anxiety causes significant discomfort awareness. In other words, general aches and pains that healthy adults experience every day may be more obvious to someone with anxiety, because the anxious mind has a tendency to become over-sensitive to this discomfort and focus on it to such a degree that it amplifies the discomfort.
Reducing Vaginal Discomfort
Unlike other anxiety symptoms, many forms of vaginal discomfort will not completely clear up on their own. See a doctor to make sure that you don't have an infection, as they may recommend antibiotics or creams to improve vaginal health. Make sure to stay away from douching, or anything that damages the mucus membrane.
Partner anything your doctor tells you with some type of anxiety treatment, to ensure that you no longer put your body under the level of stress that creates this type of discomfort.
I've worked with many women suffering from vaginal discomfort in the past. Start with my free 7 minute anxiety test. It's a revealing test that will teach you much more about your anxiety and give you insight into what you can do to treat it.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.