Vaginal swelling may happen from time to time, and it’s not always a cause for concern. Periods, pregnancy, and intercourse can all cause swelling in the vaginal area, including the vaginal lips. Sometimes, swelling may be the result of another condition, disease, or disorder. In these cases, it’s important to understand what’s causing the swelling and what can be done to treat it.
There are direct and indirect irritants that can irritate your vagina and cause vaginal swelling. Chemicals in common household items like laundry detergent and bubble baths can irritate the vaginal, vulva, and labial skin. Perfumes and abrasive toilet paper can also be harmful. Vaginal swelling, itching, and burning around your vaginal area may occur if you've switched to a new product or developed a sensitivity.
Items that you use in or around your vaginal area might also irritate the tissue, causing itching, irritation, and swelling. The items that can directly irritate your vagina include lubricants, washes, creams, tampons, pads, condoms, and others.
The vaginal environment is protected by a precise balance of good bacteria, which keeps at bay potentially harmful bacteria and other species. The bad bacteria can grow too rapidly and outnumber healthy bacteria. This can lead to the development of bacterial vaginosis. It can cause symptoms like swelling, irritation, burning, and a fishy odor or discharge in the vaginal area.
Bacterial vaginosis is the most prevalent vaginal infection in women. It's unclear why it occurs, although it's more common among women who engage in sexual activity. However, women who have never had sex can develop it.
Cervicitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the cervix. It often results from a sexually transmitted disease. STDs such as chlamydia, genital herpes, and gonorrhea are common causes. However, cervicitis isn't always caused by an STD or other sort of infection.
When one or more Candida fungus species grows beyond typical amounts in the vagina, it results in a yeast infection. Three out of every four women will get a yeast infection at some point in their lives. In addition to the swelling, a yeast infection may cause burning, pain during urination, discomfort during sex, redness, and cottage cheese-like discharge. While this condition isn’t so dangerous, it's better to visit a gynecologist.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. It is one of the most frequent STDs in the United States. HSV infections are seen in more than one out of every six people between the ages of 14 and 49. Genital herpes generates clusters of tiny, painful blisters in infected patients. These blisters are prone to burst and ooze a clear fluid. The patches turn into painful sores once they burst, and can take up to a week to heal.
You may also experience pain, fever, and body aches in addition to vaginal swelling. However, not everyone with genital herpes will experience blister breakouts. Some people will experience no symptoms at all, while others will notice a bump or two that they mistake for an ingrown hair or pimple. You can still spread the STD to a sexual partner even if you don't have any symptoms.
A woman's body changes dramatically during pregnancy. As the fetus grows, blood can accumulate in the pelvis, while other fluids may not drain properly. This might result in vaginal swelling, pain, and discomfort.
While you're still pregnant, lying down or sleeping frequently may help with vaginal swelling concerns. The swelling should subside once the baby is delivered. However, if you experience other symptoms or the swelling and discomfort become unbearable, consult your doctor right away.