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What are the Common Causes of Vaginal Swelling?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many conditions and types of injury that have the potential to cause vaginal swelling. Among the most common are trauma to the vaginal area during sexual intercourse and injury that results from a blow to the area. Some women may also develop this swelling after childbirth, regardless of whether they have vaginal births or Cesarean sections (C-sections). Vaginal infections, including yeast infections and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) may also cause swelling in some cases. Additionally, exposure to harsh, irritating chemicals in the form of soaps, detergents, bubble baths, and even scented feminine products can cause the problem or help to make it worse.

One of the most common causes of vaginal swelling is some type of trauma. For example, a woman may experience swelling in the vaginal area after particularly rough sexual intercourse or even after having sex without enough lubrication. A woman may also have swelling after an injury, such as a blow to the vagina. Some women may also notice swelling in this area if the vagina is injured or irritated while riding a horse or dancing.

Sometimes women also experience vaginal swelling after childbirth. The movement of a baby through the birth canal can prove traumatic for vaginal tissues, and some women experience swelling in this area that lasts for several days. Likewise, a woman may experience soreness in the area after having a baby. Interestingly, a woman may also experience swelling after a C-section. This can be due to hormonal changes, pressure exerted during labor, unsuccessful pushing attempts, or attempts at assisted vaginal delivery before deciding on a C-section.

Vaginal infections are also among the most common causes of swelling. For example, itching and swelling are common symptoms among women who have vaginal yeast infections. A woman may also experience swelling in the vaginal area after developing a bacterial infection. STDs are also among the most common causes of swelling and irritation.

Chemicals can sometimes cause swelling of the vagina as well. For example, a woman may experience vaginal irritation after using a new laundry detergent or a new body soap. Some women also find bubble baths, scented maxi pads, and tampons irritating. A woman may even find that spermicides and lubricated condoms either cause irritation and swelling or contribute to the problem. Once irritation and swelling have developed, however, something as simple as wiping with abrasive toilet paper or wearing overly tight underwear may make matters worse.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By anon339997 — On Jun 29, 2013

I've recently discovered that certain soaps and even shampoos cause vaginal swelling. I couldn't figure out what it was being caused by until I realized that it would get worse after washing my hair. Any suggestions?

By anon319585 — On Feb 13, 2013

How long does it take and how can you get rid of vaginal swelling due to tight underwear?

By MissDaphne — On Aug 20, 2011

@Kat919 - I think that with vaginal swelling, during pregnancy or not, the most important thing is actually to treat the root cause. If you have an infection, you need to get the infection treated; if you've had a baby, you need time to heal, etc.

So I would just recommend taking it easy after you have your next baby, but do get a little light exercise (e.g., strolling around the mother-baby unit) because it's good for your circulation.

It helps if the area can "breathe" and dry out, but of course that's a problem after childbirth when you're having the mother of all periods and wearing those fetching mesh panties and diaper-size absorbent pads. My doula recommended asking for one of those leak pads they put under you during labor (you know, the ones that look like puppy pads). You can sit on that with no underwear on for a while. (The same thing for a baby works to treat diaper rash.)

You should be able to take home a small stash of mesh pants, a peri bottle, some OB pads, and that kind of thing.

Good luck with your new baby!

By Kat919 — On Aug 19, 2011

What can you do about vaginal swelling? I experienced a swollen vagina after my first child was born and I want to minimize that this time around. (I think it was just from the trauma of childbirth, as I did not experience any swelling during my pregnancy.)

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a TheHealthBoard writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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