How to Ease Vaginal Swelling During Pregnancy
February 13, 2020
Swelling is a common side effect of pregnancy, especially when it comes to your feet and hands. But there’s one area that can also swell during pregnancy that doesn’t get a lot of attention: Your vagina. If you notice you have a swollen vagina during pregnancy, know you’re not the only woman going through this! Still, we’re guessing you might have questions about why this is happening. Here’s what you need to know, plus how to minimize the swelling and ease any discomfort.
In this article:
Symptoms of vaginal swelling during pregnancy
What causes vaginal swelling during pregnancy?
How to reduce vaginal swelling during pregnancy
How to prevent vaginal swelling during pregnancy
Every woman and every pregnancy is different—which means the symptoms of vaginal swelling during pregnancy can differ from person to person. In general, though, you might experience the following:
• Noticeable swelling. You’re probably familiar on at least some level with what your vulva and vaginal area usually feels like. If it’s swollen, it can feel noticeably bigger or puffier, says Frederick Friedman, Jr., MD, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “There may just be a general feeling of swelling or fullness in the vaginal area,” adds Julie Lamppa, APRN, CNM, a certified nurse midwife at Mayo Clinic, which can lead to overall discomfort.
• Bumps. Some women who experience vaginal swelling during pregnancy can have varicose veins surface in their vulvar area, which can cause swelling and a bumpy feel down there, Lamppa says.
• Itchiness. This isn’t the case for every woman, but itchiness can sometimes accompany vaginal swelling, Lamppa says.
There are several reasons why you might develop vaginal swelling in pregnancy. Here are some of the most common ones:
• An increase in blood volume. Your blood volume increases during pregnancy to help support the growing baby. As your uterus grows, there’s also an increase in pressure of the blood vessels in your pelvis, Lamppa explains. The combination of these two things can lead to swelling.
• Varicose veins in your vulva. Varicose veins are swollen, bumpy veins that develop when valves let blood pool in one spot or flow backward. Just like you can develop varicose veins in your legs, you can also develop these in your vulva during pregnancy, Lamppa says. “These aren’t dangerous, but they can be alarming to women when they suddenly show up.”
• A yeast infection. Yeast infections are common among moms-to-be, and they can also lead to a swollen vagina during pregnancy, Friedman says. “The inflammation that results from the infection can cause more swelling,” he explains.
• Excess fluid. Excess fluid can get trapped in your body’s tissues during pregnancy, and that can cause swelling down there, Friedman says.
If you suspect that your vaginal swelling is due to excess fluid, compression or support stockings might help. “There are products on the market that you can buy that give vulvar support,” Lamppa says. (Just check in with your doctor first to make sure it’s okay for you to use.)
For direct relief, Lamppa recommends applying a cool pack directly to your vulva. That should help with discomfort as well as cut down on some of the swelling.
If you’re experiencing vaginal swelling along with symptoms of a yeast infection—such as an itchy vaginal area during pregnancy, accompanied by white vaginal discharge—Lamppa recommends seeing your doctor for an evaluation. If they determine that you do, in fact, have a yeast infection, your care provider will likely recommend that you use an over-the-counter cream.
Sorry, but there isn’t a ton you can do to lower the odds you’ll experience vaginal swelling during pregnancy, given that it’s a normal side effect of being pregnant, Lamppa says. However, doing your best to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time may be helpful, Friedman suggests.
While it’s pretty common, it’s a good idea to flag any vaginal swelling during pregnancy for your care provider so they can help pinpoint the cause and get you sweet relief ASAP.
Updated January 2020
Frederick Friedman, Jr., MD, is an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He also serves as director for both the division of obstetrics and the division of generalists in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Mount Sinai Health System, and maintains a clinical practice in general obstetrics and gynecology.
Julie Lamppa, APRN, CNM, is a certified nurse midwife and medical editor at Mayo Clinic, and maintains a midwifery practice in Rochester, New York.
*Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances. *