Vaginal swelling is not only caused by a yeast infection, but is just one of many possible causes. Vaginal swelling can be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cysts, allergies, or rough intercourse. Treatment will depend on the cause of vaginal swelling.
Causes of Vaginal Swelling
Let’s look at 12 possible causes of vaginal swelling, along with possible treatment options.
Vaginal yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of the Candida fungal species. It can cause vaginal swelling, and other symptoms such as thick, chunky discharge, inflammation, burning, irritated skin, pain during sex, and discomfort during urination.
Yeast infections are mainly treated with antifungal medications. However, it is best to see a doctor for a diagnosis because other infections have similar symptoms.
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A rough and bumpy sexual intercourse can cause the vagina to swell. If the vagina is not well lubricated, an added friction may lead to pain during sex, and swelling of the vagina after sex. Rough intercourse can also cause the vaginal tissues to tear, exposing the vagina to numerous infection.
If a person suspects that rough intercourse has caused vaginal swelling, they should spend more time engaging in foreplay or use a lubricant to reduce friction.
The body may react negatively when it comes in contact with specific products. Even the most popular and most widely used chemical ingredients may lead to puffiness of the vagina.
Chemical fragrances are often to blame. They can be found in many products that come into contact with the vagina, including:
- body washes
- laundry detergent
- toilet paper
- bath bombs and soaps
Some types of cloth may also cause vaginal swelling and irritation. Lace or polyester underwear, in particular, may irritate the skin.
READ ALSO: Causes of Vaginal Itching after Sex
Sometimes, the cut of underwear is responsible for the swelling. Thin thongs or G-strings may not cover the labia entirely, which may cause unnecessary friction in the area throughout the day that can lead to swelling. If you are not able to recognize the cause of vaginal swelling, visit a doctor or dermatologist. An over-the-counter pain reliever or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may help if the swelling is causing discomfort.
The vagina may swell as a result of an allergic reaction. The vagina is a sensitive part of the body and may react to some ingredients found in personal care products such as:
- Vaginal washes and douches
- Body lotions and creams
- Vaginal contraceptives
- Latex condoms
- Tampons and pads
READ ALSO: What You Should Know About Vaginal Cysts
Swelling may appear in response to a new product, but a product the body is familiar with can also cause an allergic reaction. It is best to stop using the product causing allergy and consult a doctor.
An overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the vagina may cause vaginosis. The main symptom of bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a grayish discharge associated with a foul smell. Many cases resolve on their own, but a doctor may recommend antibiotics to accelerate recovery. Cleaning the vaginal area regularly and avoiding potential irritants can help prevent BV.
It may also be a good idea to avoid products such as douches, which disrupt the bacterial balance in the vagina.
- STIs and cervicitis
Some of these infections can cause inflammation of the cervix (cervicitis). Symptoms of cervicitis can include bleeding between periods, abnormal discharge and pain during intercourse.
Below are some STIs that can cause vaginal swelling.
- Chlamydia: This can seriously damage a woman’s reproductive system and may also lead to painful urination and unusual discharge.
- Gonorrhea: Symptoms in women are often mild and are easily confused with those of an infection in the urinary tract or bladder. Other symptoms include bleeding between periods and increased discharge.
- Trichomoniasis: This is caused by a parasite and may have no symptoms. However symptoms can include soreness, itching, pain while urinating, and changes in discharge.
Anyone who suspects that they have an STI should see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The herpes simplex virus often causes clusters of tiny, painful blisters to appear near the vagina. These can burst and become painful sores.
There may be no symptoms in some cases. However, others find that swelling, pain, and body aches accompany these sores.
There is currently no cure for genital herpes, but prescription medication may shorten or prevent the infection.
Edema is caused by a collection of water or fluid in the body. Edema in the vagina is usually caused by lymph nodes or veins failing to drain. Uterine fibroids or pregnancy, can cause edema to develop.
See a doctor to identify the cause of the edema to treat it. Gently massaging the area may help to reduce swelling in some cases.
This is a bacterial infection of the inner layers of the skin that may cause the skin to become swollen, inflamed, and tender. A person can develop cellulitis when the bacteria enter a cut wound. Cleaning a cut regularly may help to fight infection. A doctor will recommend antibiotics in some cases.
During pregnancy as the fetus grows, it can place pressure on the pelvis and nearby muscles and blood vessels, causing the vagina to swell.
This pressure can cause inflammation and affect the return of blood and fluid from the lymphatic system, which may lead to swelling. Pregnant women with uncomfortable vaginal swelling should consult a doctor about safe medications.
Foreign objects in the vagina
The presence of foreign objects in the vagina can cause the vagina to swell. When the body tries to expel a foreign object lodged in the vagina, symptoms may include itching, pain, fever, irritation, swelling, and foul discharge. Regularly cleaning the vagina may prevent objects from becoming stuck in it.
Gartner’s duct cysts
A duct that develops in fetuses when the urinary and sexual organs are developing usually fades after birth. If part of this duct remains, it is known as a Gartner’s duct. The remaining tissue may attach to the vaginal wall and form a cyst.
READ ALSO: What You Should Know About Vaginal Cysts
Gartner’s duct cysts tend to be harmless, but they can become problematic when they grow. A Gartner’s duct cyst may become infected or cause pain and swelling in the vagina. In some cases, the cyst will appear as a growth on the outside of the vagina.