If you’re experiencing vaginal swelling, you may be worried about what is wrong or what could be causing it. Usually, vaginal swelling isn’t anything to be concerned about, but it’s worth being clued up on why it happens and what you can do about it.
Why is my vagina itchy and swollen?
There could be a number of reasons why your vagina is swollen or itchy, and some are more serious than others. If you’re in doubt, you should speak to your doctor who will examine you. They will be able to determine what the problem is and advise a suitable treatment.
What can cause a swollen vagina?
The vagina is a very sensitive area. As such, it could react to some products and substances in a way that the rest of your body might not. You may be having a slight allergic reaction to a product, perhaps soap, lubricants, washing powder, latex, body wash or menstrual products, such as tampons. You should stop using each of these things one by one to determine the cause of the reaction. If you use scented pads or tampons, try switching to unscented as these may be more gentle on your skin. Even if you don’t have an allergy to these products, they can still irritate the vagina and cause it to swell or itch.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
BV is an infection that’s caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. It can occur for a number of reasons, however using scented products and soaps on your vagina could be one of the main causes. Other symptoms of BV include fishy smelling discharge that is thin and watery and an off-white or grey colour.
A yeast infection, otherwise known as Thrush, could also be the reason for your swollen vagina. This kind of infection is caused by a fungus. Other symptoms might include vaginal burning, red and irritated skin, and thick discharge that has a consistency similar to cottage cheese.
While slightly more uncommon, cysts could be the reason for your swollen, itchy vagina. There are two main types of cysts that could be the cause: Gartner’s duct cysts and Bartholin’s cysts.
Gartner’s duct cysts form in foetuses when the sexual organs are developing. They usually disappear after birth, however, if the duct remains, it is known as a Gartner’s duct. This duct could develop into a cyst. These cysts are mostly harmless but if they grow, they can cause pain and swelling in the vagina.
Bartholin’s cysts tend to form on glands that are positioned either side of the vaginal opening. Again, these cysts aren’t harmful and mostly go unnoticed. If they become infected, you may experience pain and swelling.
Cellulitis is a minor bacterial infection that usually occurs when the skin has been cut or broken. If you’ve recently cut yourself while shaving, you could have an infection that is making the area sore and swollen. This may be resolved with antibiotics - consult your doctor for advice on a suitable course of treatment.
Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It’s a virus and there isn’t currently a cure for it. One of the main symptoms of Herpes is sores that appear near the vagina. Most people have no other symptoms, however sometimes these sores can be accompanied by discomfort, swelling and aching.
Why is the inside of my vagina swollen?
It’s hard to say why your vagina might be swollen on the inside. It could be for one of the reasons we’ve listed above or it could also be due to lack of lubrication during sex. If there’s too much friction during sexual intercourse, the skin could tear or become damaged. As this is healing, bacteria could get in and cause an infection. You should always make sure your vagina is lubricated enough during sex to prevent this problem from occurring.
Why is my vagina swollen during pregnancy?
It’s quite normal for your vagina to swell during pregnancy. This is because, when the foetus grows, it puts pressure on the muscles and blood vessels around the pelvis. This increased pressure can cause inflammation which leads to swelling, and is also the reason for swollen hands and feet during pregnancy. If you have any other symptoms that are accompanying the swelling, then you could visit your doctor or your gynaecologist, but it isn’t usually anything to worry about.
How to treat a swollen vagina
Treatment will depend on why your vagina is swollen.
If you have a bacterial infection, such as BV, there are some treatments you can try at home, such as a BV gel . For Cellulitis, your doctor will be able to provide with you a suitable course of treatment. If the infection doesn’t clear up, you should go back to your doctor for further advice.
If your swollen vagina is caused by a fungal infection, such as thrush, there are over-the-counter creams or tablets that you may wish to try.
Soap and body wash could be irritating your vagina, which may lead to swelling and itching. To avoid this in the future, use a soap free, colourant free feminine wash foam. It will be gentle on your skin while also moisturising the delicate area.