Swollen Vulva: Causes, Prevention And More

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Swollen Vulva: Causes, Prevention And More

Swelling in your vulva or Vaginitis can occur due to various underlying health issues.

Swollen vulva: Causes, prevention and more

Image Source: Dinodia

If you notice swelling in your vulva, it may be a sign of vaginitis, a condition characterised by inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can occur due to various underlying health issues. The causes of vaginitis often include bacterial, yeast, or viral infections, as well as imbalances in vaginal bacteria. Additionally, certain skin disorders or low levels of oestrogen can contribute to the development of this condition.

When both the vagina and vulva are inflamed, it is referred to as vulvovaginitis. Along with a swollen vulva, vaginitis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Discomfort while urinating
  • Light bleeding or spotting

Causes of vulva swelling

Allergic reaction - When an allergic reaction occurs, it can lead to swelling in the vaginal area. The vagina, being a highly sensitive part of the body, can react to various ingredients commonly found in personal care products, including:

  • Soaps
  • Lubricants
  • Vaginal washes and douches
  • Tampons and pads
  • Vaginal contraceptives
  • Body lotions and creams
  • Latex condoms

Irritation - Even in the absence of an allergy, the body can react negatively when exposed to certain products. Even commonly used chemical ingredients can potentially trigger vaginal swelling. Chemical fragrances often bear the blame for this. They can be found in various products that come into contact with the vagina, such as:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Perfumes
  • Toilet paper
  • Body washes
  • Bath bombs and soaps

Certain types of fabric can also cause irritation and swelling. Specifically, lace or polyester underwear may aggravate the skin. Sometimes, the style of underwear can be responsible for swelling. Thin thongs or G-strings may not provide sufficient coverage to the labia, resulting in unnecessary friction throughout the day, leading to swelling.

Sexual activity - Engaging in vigorous sexual activity can result in swelling of the vulva. When there isn't enough natural lubrication present, increased friction during sex can lead to discomfort or pain, as well as post-sex swelling. Furthermore, rough intercourse has the potential to cause tears in vaginal tissues, which increases the risk of infection.

Gartner's duct cysts - They are the formations that occur during foetal development when the urinary and reproductive organs are forming. Normally, these ducts disappear after birth. However, if a portion of the duct persists, it is referred to as a Gartner's duct. This remaining tissue can attach to the vaginal wall and develop into a cyst.

Bartholin's cysts - They are small sacs that develop on the Bartholin glands located on either side of the vaginal opening. These glands secrete moisture and contribute to lubrication. Initially, a Bartholin's cyst may go unnoticed, but if it becomes infected, it can lead to the formation of an abscess. This can cause inflammation and pain in the surrounding skin near the vagina

Cellulitis - Cellulitis is an infection caused by bacteria that affects the deeper layers of the skin, leading to swelling, redness, and sensitivity. This condition can occur when bacteria enter a wound, such as a cut from shaving the pubic area. Maintaining regular wound hygiene can aid in preventing infection. In certain instances, a medical professional may prescribe antibiotics as a recommended course of treatment.

Yeast infection - Candida overgrowth is the root cause of yeast infections. This condition often leads to vaginal swelling, accompanied by various symptoms such as:

  • Burning sensation
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse and urination
  • Redness
  • Thick, lumpy discharge
  • Irritation of the skin
  • Effective treatment for yeast infections involves the use of antifungal medications. However, it is advisable to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis, as there are other conditions that present similar symptoms.

Pregnancy - The growing foetus exerts pressure on the pelvis and the surrounding muscles and blood vessels. This pressure can lead to inflammation, interfering with the proper flow of blood and fluid from the lymphatic system, resulting in swelling. If an individual suspects they might be pregnant, they can take a pregnancy test, which can be conveniently purchased over the counter or online.

Managing and preventing a swollen vulva

  • Good hygiene - Avoid baths, hot tubs, and whirlpool spas to reduce exposure to bacteria and fungi. After using the bathroom, remember to wipe from front to back to prevent the spread of fecal bacteria to your vagina.
  • Avoid irritating products - Stay away from harsh soaps, pads, scented tampon, douches, and scented soaps, as they can cause irritation. After showering, thoroughly rinse soap from your genitals and ensure the area is dried well to prevent irritation.
  • Avoid douching - Douching disrupts the natural balance of good bacteria in your vagina, allowing bad bacteria to overgrow and leading to vaginitis. It's best to avoid douching altogether
  • Wear cotton underwear - Opt for cotton underwear as it allows your genital area to breathe, reducing the likelihood of yeast growth.
  • Always use a latex condom - When engaging in sexual activity, use a latex condom to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.


Vaginal swelling is typically not caused by a serious medical condition. If you're unsure about the cause, it's advisable to consult a doctor. To determine the cause of vaginal swelling, a doctor may conduct a physical examination or a blood test. There are numerous medications available to effectively treat vaginal swelling, and most cases can be resolved quickly and efficiently.

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.