Read below about vaginal swelling, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your vaginal swelling from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Vaginal Swelling Symptoms

When fluid accumulates in the tissues of the body, swelling occurs. Swelling can be restricted to a specific part of the body (localized) or spread throughout the body (generalized).

The localized form of swelling is usually easier to identify because the affected body part will become larger than its counterparts. However, in the case of vaginal swelling, the swelling itself may be difficult to perceive – making this a frequently missed problem. Despite this, there may be other associated signs and symptoms that can clue you in on the presence of vaginal swelling.

These associated vaginal swelling symptoms may include:

Vaginal swelling symptoms may happen intermittently and go away without intervention. However, vaginal swelling can also be a sign of an underlying medical problem. As a result, making an appointment with your doctor is important. Prompt medical care will allow you to receive a diagnosis and secure appropriate treatment in order to quickly resolve your vaginal swelling symptoms.

Vaginal Swelling Causes Overview

The vagina is composed of five main parts:

  • The labia (the folds of skin around the vaginal opening): This includes the labia majora (the outer folds) that are immediately visible and covered with pubic hair, and the labia minora (the inner folds). The labia protect the vagina and clitoris from irritation and injury
  • Clitoris: A gland located at the top of the vagina where the inner folds meet composed of various nerve endings.
  • Urethral opening: This is the opening where urine is expelled.
  • Vaginal opening: Located right below the urethral opening, the vagina is the orifice in that connects the uterus to the outside world.
  • Mons pubis: This is a mound of flesh above the vaginal opening that is covered with pubic hair and protects the pubic bone.

See this image for a visual representation.

Vaginal swelling can refer to enlargement of any of these components of the vagina.

Inflammation

  • Infection: Bacteria and fungi that normally inhabit the vagina can overgrow and cause infection that can cause vaginal swelling symptoms and burning of the entire vaginal area, especially the labia. Furthermore, many sexually transmitted bacteria such as trichomoniasis and chlamydia can cause similar symptoms. Viral infections such as herpes can also cause similar symptoms and result in clusters of small, painful blisters that can swell and dispel fluid.

  • Irritation: Certain scented sprays, soaps and detergents as well as hygiene practices, such as douching can disrupt the vaginal fluid balance, cause irritation and result in swelling of the vaginal components.

Obstruction

  • The vagina also has ducts and glands within its walls that are not directly visible to the eye. These structures are responsible for producing natural fluid and lubrication to the vagina, but when these glands become infected they can form fluid filled cysts or pus-filled abscesses that cause blockages and resultant swelling. Sometimes these blocked glands can become very large and painful and the infection can spread to the labia and mons pubis causing more swelling, pain and tenderness.

Trauma

  • Sexual assault is a serious, traumatic event that can cause severe damage to the components of the vagina. The resultant trauma can not only lead to swelling but also bleeding and tearing.

  • Keep in mind, trauma to the vagina is not limited to sexual assault. Rough sex or sex without lubrication can also lead to trauma that results in bleeding and swelling of the vaginal components.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Vaginal Swelling

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced vaginal swelling. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Yeast Infection

    Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called "Candida." Candida is the scientific name for yeast that lives almost everywhere, including in the human body. Typically, our immune system keeps it under control, but if you take antibiotics or gets sick, the fungus can multiply and cause an infection. In this case, it is happening in the vagina.

    50% of women have relapses within 2 months, and 9% have more than 4 episodes per year. For those, maintenance therapy is possible.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal itch or burning, white/gray vaginal discharge, thick vaginal discharge, vaginal pain, vulvovaginal redness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore, or inflamed after direct contact with a substance. This condition most often affects skin of the hands, and may occur after repeated and prolonged exposure to substances such as water, detergents (soaps, bleach), solvents (such as gasoline), acids, powders, dust, and soil. The onset of the skin reaction is usually within 48 hours of coming in contact with the substance.

    1-2 days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash
    Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    rash with well-defined border
    Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Bartholin Cyst

    The Bartholin gland sits in the outer part of the vagina and produces fluid that lubricates it. A Bartholin cyst is caused by a blockage in the gland and the build up of fluid behind the blockage.

    Will not go away without drainage or surgical removal

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    small vagina lump, bump on the outer part of the vagina, marble sized vagina lump
    Symptoms that always occur with bartholin cyst:
    bump on the outer part of the vagina
    Symptoms that never occur with bartholin cyst:
    painful vagina lump, vaginal pain, painful sex
    Urgency:
    Wait and watch

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  4. 4.Bartholin Duct Abscess

    The Bartholin gland sits in the outer part of the vagina and produces fluid that lubricates it. A Bartholin duct abscess is caused by a blockage in the gland and a bacterial infection within the fluid that builds up.

    Rarely goes away without surgery. 2-25% recurrence for surgery and drainage

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal pain, painful sex, bump on the outer part of the vagina, painful vagina lump, small vagina lump
    Symptoms that always occur with bartholin duct abscess:
    bump on the outer part of the vagina, vaginal pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Chlamydia Infection

    Chlamydia is a common bacterial infection that is spread through unprotected sex. Each year, over 1 million Americans are diagnosed with this STD.

    The infection should clear in 1-7 days after treatment.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, sudden urgency to urinate, bleeding after sex, frequent urination
    Symptoms that never occur with chlamydia infection:
    improving vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Gonococcal Cervicitis

    Gonorrhea is a common STD and 350,000 cases occur each year in the United States. It is transmitted through unprotected sex.

    1 week with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding, painful sex, yellow pus vaginal discharge, heavy menstrual flow
    Symptoms that never occur with gonococcal cervicitis:
    improving vaginal discharge
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Vaginal Swelling Treatments and Relief

Vaginal swelling symptoms and associated symptoms can be very uncomfortable, but thankfully there are strategies you can take to alleviate some symptoms as well as lifestyle changes you can use to prevent future occurrences.

At home remedies to help with vaginal swelling symptoms and pain:

  • Use a cool compress or ice pack and apply to the pelvic area for 15 minutes at a time to reduce vaginal swelling symptoms.
  • Over the counter pain medications are a quick solution to the pain that is often associated with vaginal swelling.
  • For suspected fungal infections, you can buy an over-the-counter antifungal cream.
  • Try sitz baths – warm water with salt added. These baths are usually helpful in alleviating pain and discomfort. The kits can be bought at your local pharmacy and you can sit in the bath several times per day for a week.

If your vaginal swelling symptoms persist, make an appointment with your doctor.

Depending on the cause of your symptoms, your doctor may suggest:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are available for many sexually transmitted infections and bacteria. It is important that you take the antibiotics consistently and according to your doctors prescribed orders.

Preventative measures

After treatment of your vaginal swelling symptoms, there are many lifestyle changes you can employ in order to prevent future incidents.

  • Limit douching and use of scented soaps in order to restore balance to your vaginal secretions and prevent conditions that can cause irritation
  • Use a condom during sexual intercourse to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Use lubricant to reduce friction and prevent irritation and trauma.
  • Limit use of tight clothing or undergarments as they can generate heat and allow conditions for bacteria and fungi to grow.

If you develop a fever of 101°F (38°C) or higher, experiencing severe pains, or begin bleeding heavily, seek emergency medical treatment. This could be signs of a life-threatening infection.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Vaginal Swelling

  • Q.Have you ever had a yeast infection?
  • Q.Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Q.Have you ever taken a course of antibiotics in your life?
  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our vaginal swelling symptom checker to find out more.

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Vaginal Swelling Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced vaginal swelling have also experienced:

    • 29% Vaginal Itch or Burning
    • 13% Vaginal Discharge
    • 7% Yellow Pus Vaginal Discharge
  • People who have experienced vaginal swelling had symptoms persist for:

    • 51% Less Than a Week
    • 23% Less Than a Day
    • 10% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced vaginal swelling were most often matched with:

    • 50% Yeast Infection
    • 50% Irritant Contact Dermatitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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