You wake up one morning expecting everything to be as it normally is; only to discover you have a swollen vaginal area. A swollen vaginal area does not just mean the vagina itself, but it can also be a swelling of the vaginal lips, labia majora or minora. Regardless of what specific area is swollen, you surely want to learn why. The causes of a swollen vaginal area are many, based on which area is affected, the appearance of the swelling and the other associated symptoms.
Common Causes of Swollen Vagina
Allergy or irritation
An allergy or potential irritation is considered one of the most common causes of a swollen vaginal area. An allergic reaction or irritation can occur from any type of chemical, such as soaps, vaginal contraceptives, sprays, creams, lubricants or even bubble baths. Sometimes, this can even occur with soaps or chemicals that you have been using for years. Furthermore, use of latex condoms may also cause an allergic reaction. If a chemical irritation occurs without an allergic reaction, it may result in the vulvar region becoming swollen. Usually, an allergic reaction is known as allergic contact dermatitis while the others are known as irritant contact dermatitis.
Generalized swelling around the vagina which is present on both sides is known as edematous swelling. This is most often due to improper drainage of the lymphatic system, or improper drainage of the veins in the region. The reasons for this drainage may be due to pregnancy or other conditions which enlarge the uterus and place pressure on your pelvic veins.
Cysts or abscesses
When there are specific swollen areas, it may be from a cyst or abscess that has become attached to the vaginal wall. These cysts and abscesses can occur from a variety of events, such as birth trauma. They may also form around what are known as Gartner’s ducts, which are part of the fetal development and usually disappear after birth. Additionally, some vaginal tumors are known to cause cysts and infected Bartholin’s glands, which are located on both sides of the vaginal opening, can also cause abscesses.
When vagina or cervix gets infected, which is also referred to as or cervicitis, the vaginal lips may become swollen. While these infections may result in swelling, there are usually other concomitant symptoms that appear first. Besides, yeast infection can also lead to swollen vagina. Additionally, skin conditions may cause cellulitis, which often results in a swollen vulva and severe pain. If not properly treated, infections may soon become abscesses.
Although the above are considered the most common causes, other common causes of a swollen vaginal area also include straddle injuries, rough intercourse and benign or cancerous vaginal tumor.
Less Common Causes of Swollen Vagina
In addition to the possible causes listed above, the following diseases, disorders or conditions can also be responsible for the swelling.
Fournier’s Gangrene, which is a bacterial infection of the genitals that spreads throughout the body from the urinary or gastrointestinal tracts and is considered life-threatening.
Heart failure when the heart’s deterioration fails to appropriately pump blood.
Lymphedema or the swelling caused by a damaged or blocked lymphatic vessel.
Pregnancy, which increase the compression of the veins by the growing uterus.
Venous insufficiency or the poor flow of blood throughout the veins.
When Should You Seek Immediate Medical Help?
There are certain cases in which vaginal swelling is actually a symptom of a life-threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention. If you or someone you know suffer from any of the following conditions in relation to a swollen vaginal area, be sure to call 911 immediately:
Bleeding, including light spotting, while pregnant.
A fever of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pain that is extremely severe.
Any vaginal bleeding that is uncontrollable (soaking through more than one sanitary pad per hour for more than two hours at a time).
How to Treat Swollen Vagina
Consult Your Doctor
A swollen vaginal area may occur for a variety of reasons, so it is best to see a doctor if the swelling lasts for more than a week or is accompanied by illness or being uncomfortable.
Take Prescribed Medication
If you have a yeast infection, you may need an anti-fungal medication, which can be administered orally or vaginally. There are also antibiotic pills or creams to help soothe bacterial infections or swelling from a sexually transmitted disease.
Avoid Possible Irritants
After the cause of the swollen vaginal area has been diagnosed, be sure to avoid using any potential chemicals or soaps that may cause the swelling to return. Use fragrance-free laundry detergent, avoid scratching (as this may prolong healing), and abstain from sexual intercourse until fully healed.
Use Lukewarm Water
This is especially important if taking a bath or after using the restroom. If the swelling is severe, you should avoid using toilet paper and instead rinse with lukewarm water. You may also want to consider sleeping without bottoms in order to allow the vaginal area to be aired out.
You can get more information about clean vagina from the video below: