Swollen Vagina During Pregnancy: Causes & What to Do About It

You’re several months into your pregnancy now and have experienced some (or a lot) of the changes a woman’s body goes through when she’s expecting.

Constant nausea and feeling like you’e going to barf, an increase in breast size that makes you feel like you can’t go out of the house in public without looking ridiculous, loads of back pain that won’t leave you alone. So you think to yourself “great! what could possibly be worse?”.

Well, vaginal swelling – that’s what!

Symptoms Of Vaginal Swelling During Pregnancy

  • Mild or extreme pain in the vaginal area. In the case of extreme pain, seek immediate medical help.
  • Irritation and/or itching in or around the vaginal area
  • Unusual changes in the skin area around the vagina, such as the sudden appearance of sores or blisters.

What Could Be Causing Me To Have A Swollen Vagina While Pregnant?

Vaginal swelling, which happens when the skin either inside a vagina or around it gets irritated, can be triggered by a wide number of different reasons – and it’s actually a much more common symptom during pregnancy than you might think it is.

1) Vaginal Discharge

During the course of a pregnancy, moms-to-be experience an increase in vaginal discharge.

Occasional vaginal discharge is usually no big deal, but an excessive increase in vaginal discharge almost always causes irritation to the vulva’s skin.

Note from Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN: “This can cause the vulva to swell and to be uncomfortable.”

2) Infections

Swelling and irritation in the vaginal area during pregnancy could just be caused by one of many possible infections.

It can be something minor such as a bacterial, viral or yeast infection (conditions for which many over the counter treatments are available), or problems more serious such as Human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex, or gonorrhea which are more difficult to treat1.

You can do your part to minimize the chances of that area getting infected by taking proper care of it hygiene wise and keeping it dry at all times.

Moisture in the vaginal area specifically attracts microbes and bacteria responsible for infections, while dryness keeps them away.

You should also be as careful as possible during any sexual contact you have with a partner to avoid contracting any sexually transmitted disease.

3) Gruff Entry

When talking about sexual intercourse, vaginal swelling doesn’t only have to be related to sexually transmitted diseases.

In many cases, it has to do with the way sexual intercourse is happening.

For example, it could possibly be due to performing sexual intercourse for prolonged periods of time at once, or it could be simply due to frequent gruff entry without the vagina being prepared for it beforehand.

If need be, consider using lubricants (ones made from 100% natural ingredients and are chemical free) during sexual intercourse to prevent gruff entry.

4) Normal Body Changes

In some cases, a swollen vagina could just be one of the many changes a pregnant woman’s body goes through during these 9 months.

Hormonal changes such as the notable increase of estrogen and progesterone levels are responsible for a lot of changes in a pregnant woman’s body, and this might just be one of them.

Increase in blood flow during pregnancy may also be a reason, since your body now has to produce enough blood for two – you and the baby you’re carrying.

5) Skin Problems

You could have skin problems in the vaginal region at the time that, when left untreated and don’t go away on their own, develop and cause vaginal swelling.

One very common example of these skin problems is having a cyst.

6) Not Changing Positions Frequently Enough

Try not to sit or stand in the same position for long periods of time at once without changing it up every now and then.

Note from Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN: “Standing increases the pressure in the veins of the vulva during pregnancy, causing varicose veins of the vulvar tissue, which swell and become more noticeable during pregnancy2.”

7) Poor Hygiene 

This is another reason why it’s exceptionally important for you to always take proper care of your hygiene, especially during pregnancy.

Poor hygiene in the vaginal area means a safe haven for growing microbes that lead to inflammation and cause swelling.

8) Personal Care Products

Have you recently changed any of the personal care products you use on a day to day basis? Sometimes, it could just be because of a change in the type of soap you’re washing your body with or a change in the detergent you wash your laundry with that’s causing this skin irritation.

The new brand or formula you recently switched to might be negatively reacting with your skin and causing allergies and irritations in the vaginal area.

Try your best to only buy personal care products that are 100% chemical free.

Also, keep in mind that you should not be washing your vaginal area with soap at all. The only thing you should be cleaning that area with is water.

Should I See A Doctor?

Vaginal swelling during pregnancy is a very common occurrence that – many times – is considered to be normal and shouldn’t be a cause for worry and panic.

However, and while we do understand the fact that this is a very touchy subject that many of you may be shy or afraid of going to see a doctor about – the following list discusses when you must go see your gynecologist concerning this issue.

  • If the swelling and/or itchiness persists for more than 48 hours
  • If, along with the vaginal swelling and/or itchiness, you also notice unusual vaginal discharge – especially discharge that has a bad smell to it and looks gray, white or yellowish in color.
  • If you notice any unusual visible changes on the vulva’s skin (such as the appearance of blisters or sores).
  • Difficulty urinating normally without feeling physical pain.
  • Any vaginal bleeding noticed, no matter how insignificant you might think the amount of blood is.

In any case, and if you’re more of a reserved person, we would advise that you at least just talk to your doctor about this.

There’s a very good chance that they will be able to diagnose what’s causing you soreness and/or itchiness in your vaginal area without doing anything you’re not comfortable with.

In other cases, your doctor will need to perform a physical examination for proper diagnosis purposes and to determine which antibiotic or anti-fungal medication you need to be taking for treatment.

Sometimes, vaginal swelling during pregnancy can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Whatever you do, you should never attempt to self diagnose what’s causing this and try to take medication on your own to solve it.

This may very well end up making your condition much more complicated and more difficult for your doctor to diagnose later on, let alone work on a course of treatment for.

Besides, you should never try to self diagnose and take medication on your own during pregnancy and without a doctor’s guidance, since you could be unknowingly putting your pregnancy at risk by taking the wrong medication or the right medication in dangerous dosages.

In most cases, your doctor will only resort to prescribing something simple such as a topical cream or ointment for treatment purposes.

Treatment (Home Remedies & Other Tips)

1) Exercise

Try to engage in pregnancy-safe exercise after consulting with your doctor about it. (Pregnancy exercise DVDs are great for this).

If your doctor allows you to do so, this will help with the overall blood flow in your body.

2) Minimize Contact

Despite the urge you’re going to have to constantly scratch that area because of how itchy it feels, it’s best that you refrain from scratching it – especially if you notice visible redness around the area.

Scratching the vaginal area when it’s in this condition will only make the inflammation worse and further spread the infection around onto other surrounding areas (if an infection is present, of course).

3) Apple Cider Vinegar Bath

Woah! What?! Take an apple cider vinegar bath?! What on earth are you talking about?!

Hold on just a second there … We don’t mean taking an actual bath with apple cider vinegar – we mean filling a tub of water, adding in a small amount of apple cider vinegar to it, and let your body soak in it for a good 15 to 20 minutes.

Just like garlic, apple cider vinegar is notorious for containing anti-bacterial properties that will definitely help if your vaginal swelling during pregnancy is caused by a bacterial infection3.

4) Cold Compresses

You can apply cold compresses to the vaginal area in order to reduce swelling and pain.

Applying cold packs of ice on the swollen area would probably be the best of ideas to reduce the inflammation, let the swelling gradually die down and help ease the pain and discomfort.

You can also take cold baths for this purpose, but I would much rather stick to applying cold compresses myself – since I can’t even begin imagining taking a cold bath while not screaming my lungs out. But, if it works for you, then it works for you!

5) Maintain Hygiene

Make sure you frequently wash your vaginal area properly, keep it clean and keep it dry at all times (again, do not keep it moist).

However, avoid doing this too much and too frequently, because over-washing that area will only have a counterproductive effect to what you’re trying to achieve.

Also avoid keeping the vaginal area too dry, because excessive dryness will also lead to increased irritation, worse swelling and more pain.

6) Hydration

Make sure you’re drinking enough water and are remaining properly hydrated throughout the day, especially if you experience any sort of difficulty urinating because of swelling in your vaginal area.

If you have a urinary tract infection that’s making it difficult for you to urinate without feeling pain, your doctor will surely have explained to you how crucial it is for you to always stay hydrated.

7) Adequate Clothing

It’s extremely important for you to wear adequate clothing made from high quality, comfortable material, especially when it comes to underwear.

If you choose the wrong type of underwear, this can easily lead to increased irritation and more swelling, but the right type of underwear made from natural fibers will keep you comfortable, minimize irritation and – as a result – help reduce swelling.

8) Garlic

Garlic is notorious for containing antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that help fight off bacterial and fungal infections.

You can give this natural remedy a try by applying some garlic paste on the swollen skin area. Begin by applying small amounts and work your way up from there4.

Applying an excessive amount of garlic paste to the swollen area at once won’t get you faster results, more is not always better.

Most importantly, don’t overdo it – this way you’ll give things necessary time to see how that area is reacting to the paste.

Some women might notice a burning sensation and great increase in discomfort, in which case applying garlic paste should be stopped, while others will only notice improvements.

If all goes well, you should begin noticing a decrease in the swelling in a few days’ time.


  1. STD Symptoms in Women. https://www.stdcheck.com/std-symptoms-women.php. Accessed June 30, 2019.
  2. What causes vulvar varicosities during pregnancy, and how can I relieve the related discomfort? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/vulvar-varicosities-during-pregnancy/faq-20419426. Accessed June 30, 2019.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar Baths – A Full Body Detox Experience. https://northcoast.organic/apple-cider-vinegar-baths-full-body-detox-experience/. Accessed June 30, 2019.
  4. Can Garlic Treat a Yeast Infection? https://www.healthline.com/health/garlic-for-yeast-infection. Accessed June 30, 2019.

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Medically Reviewed By: Christine Traxler M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Christine Traxler M.D.

Christine Traxler MD is a retired family practice physician and graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in 1986. She has worked with patients in rural Minnesota for two decades.

She has written several books on medical topics, and has extensive experience caring for women of childbearing age, women in pregnancy, and menopausal women.

As a writer and editor, she specializes in writing coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers, with a predominance of writing on general medical topics and premedical scientific topics.

She has more than a decade of experience in the writing field, having written books on dermatology, medical assisting, nursing, and pregnancy.

She has written thousands of articles for laypeople and professionals alike on a variety of medical subjects.

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