Vaginal swelling does not only cause discomfort but also stress of what could have gone wrong down there.
Several factors could be causing your vaginal lips to swell up. While most of these factors are nothing to worry about, others will need you to visit your doctor immediately.
Less severe cases of swollen labia can be simply gotten rid of at home using natural treatments which are quite effective.
What does labia edema mean?
Also known as labia edema, labia swelling occurs when the tiny blood vessels are injured leading to fluid leaking into the surrounding tissues. When the fluid builds up, it makes the tissues edematous or inflamed.
Causes of swollen labia
There are several causes of labia edema. Here are the most common reasons:
During the growth of the baby, the uterus exerts pressure on the pelvic organs causing the blood vessels to dilate and enlarge.
Blood circulation is highly affected, there is poor venous drainage, and the blood seems to pool along the pelvic organs and the lower limbs. For this reason, the labia appear swollen.
2. Yeast infection
The common cause of vulvovaginitis (Swelling of the vulva, labia and vagina) in most women is yeast infection. Candida albicans is the fungi causative organism of such infections. A yeast infection can lead to infertility if not treated early enough. It spreads very fast to the cervix causing inflammation and even bleeding.
- It is important to visit your doctor early enough, to help diagnose and prescribe treatment accordingly.
Some women could be allergic to latex (condom) without their knowledge. Swelling on either the labia minora or majora, especially after sex could be a sign of either lubricant use or latex allergy.
For this reason, it is always advisable to go for latex-free condoms and water-based lubricants. Any trauma or bruises during vacuum childbirth might also lead to labia edema.
Semen allergy, also known as human seminal plasma hypersensitivity is another factor that leads to labia edema after sex.
The symptoms associated with this condition include intense burning sensation during sex, pain and vaginal swelling, this usually occurs about an hour from the last ejaculation.
- The only way to know whether you are sensitive to your partner semen is to go for the hypersensitivity tests.
Another sure way to determine the existence of hypersensitivity is to use a condom for a short while, to note the difference. If no allergy or symptoms occur after the condom use, then you can conclude that you have a semen allergy, and look forward to visiting your doctor for advice and further tests.
The vulva has numerous glands that secrete lubrication. If the duct of the gland blocks, a swelling will occur. At the start, the swelling might be painless, but in case infections occur, you might experience severe pain.
An abscess occurs when there is localized pus as a result of an infection. The causes may include blocked ducts, infected hair follicles or pulled hair. In such instances, you need to visit your doctor, to help drain the abscess using standard medical procedures.
Low albumin can certainly lead to fluid leakage into the nearby tissues. Albumin is protein in nature. The main function of proteins in the human body is to act as a sponge, holding fluids back from getting into the blood vessels. Low quantities of this type of protein lead to edema not only in the genitalia but also the entire body.
Swollen labia can be a major source of discomfort. Here are the common labia inflammation symptoms that you might notice:
- Sore vagina and blistering
- Discomfort during urination
- Itchiness and irritation in the genital area
- Discolored vagina discharge
- Redness in the genitalia
Why is my labia majora swollen on one side?
In some cases, you may have one swollen vaginal lip. This is common with the outer lips although you may experience it with the smaller, less visible lips.
Swollen labia majora on either side is often a sign of cysts or abscesses. Other factors that could be contributing to this include trauma, allergy, and infection. It is recommended that you visit your gynecologist to help you figure out the cause of the swelling.
Treatment swollen vaginal lips
Healing time is not definitive; it depends on several factors including drug compliance, type of drug prescribed and individual immunity. No particular drug works for all women. One may need a combination of several treatments to heal completely. Treatment of swollen labia is in four categories:
Your doctor will prescribe specific medications depending on your symptoms. These are some of the drugs you are likely to carry home
- Local anaesthetics
- Topical anti-fungal creams
- Steroidal creams
Surgery effectively gets rid of a cyst, to control the pain and provide relief. This is usually the last option when treating swollen labia. Your doctor will only consider it when all other methods of pain-relieving have failed.
Exercises are one of the best ways to get rid of the pain. Your body diverts its attention from the pain each time you get to exercise. Also, your muscles relax helping in lessening the pain.
This deals with daily activities and how you can to change or improve on them. To help reduce the amount of pressure on the labia:
- Avoid activities that exert pressure directly to the labia
- Use water-based lubricants during intercourse
- Always sit on a soft spot such as rubber doughnut.
To help alleviate the pain, do the following:
- Use ice packs wrapped in a cloth just after intercourse
- Try relaxing your muscles, when walking or even when seated
- Avoid hot tubs. They deplete good bacteria from the vagina
- Do not use scented toilet paper
- Keep the vagina area dry as much as possible
Home remedies for swollen labia
A healthy vagina needs a proper balance of the good and harmful bacteria. There are various ways you can treat infections and reduce labia swelling. However you should see your doctor if:
- You are pregnant
- You have had several recurrent yeast infections
- You have been infected with an STI
- You have had an abortion recently.
Here are the best remedies to help you get rid of swollen labia fast:
1. Tea tree oil
This remedy is enriched with anti-fungal properties that will get rid of the yeast infection which causes labia swelling and itchiness. Make your anti-fungal treatment by doing the following:
- Take a warm tablespoon of tea tree oil and add to two table spoons coconut oil
- Soak a tampon in the mixture for about one minute
- Insert the tampon into the vagina and leave for about 3 hours to help kill yeast infection and reduce the itchiness of the labia.
- This procedure should be repeated daily, until the swelling and the pain subsides completely.
Alternatively, you can apply the mixture around the vaginal area to reduce the swelling.
2. Apple cider vinegar
Research has shown that apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which is effective against microbial activities. Here is how to use vinegar to kill yeast infections:
- Add equal parts of vinegar to water
- Soak a tampon in the solution and insert into the vagina for about an hour.
- Remove the tampon, and rinse the area with warm water
- Dry the area completely
- Repeat this remedy, at least twice daily until the labia swelling is completely done with.
Yogurt contains live bacteria that can help restore the normal bacteria balance in the body and as a result combat yeast infections.
- Dip a tampon into a bowl of natural yogurt
- In a squatting position insert the tampon into the vagina
- Leave it in place for about one hour before washing off with cold water
- Alternatively, you can consume two glasses of natural yogurt daily.
Garlic is not only a super food but also a great remedy against inflamed labia. It simply helps the body to acquire stronger immunity to fight micro-organisms that are disease-causing. Its anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties help alleviate swollen labia symptoms while getting rid of t vaginal infections.
- Boil two glasses of water
- Crush 4-5 cloves of garlic to form a paste
- Add warm water to the paste and cover until warm
- Drink daily, preferably before meals and bed.
- You can also opt to chew the raw garlic
Cranberry juice is one of the most widely used home treatments against urinary tract infections. Because of its acidic nature, cranberry juice works by preventing division of bacteria.
- Crush a handful of cranberry leaves
- Add warm water into the paste
- Drink a glass preferably first thing in the morning before breakfast
- Take this remedy for at least one week to note results
In most of the time, swollen labia is as a result of vaginal infections. Below are tips to help you prevent yeast infection that could result to swollen labia:
- Avoid using soap during your bath. Majority of the soaps available in the market today are full of chemicals and perfumes that are likely to cause allergies
- Avoid douching. Douching may make you feel cleaner, but the truth of the matter is it worsens your symptoms because it removes healthy bacteria lining the vagina. An infection is bound to occur due to depletion of good bacteria.
- Avoid using tampons during an infection, pads are recommended instead. Tampons ‘push’ or helps in ascending the infection to the cervix.
- Do not wear tight underwear. Wear cotton underwear instead of the synthetic ones. Cotton allows free movement of air in and out of the vagina, hence gives no room for growth of micro-organisms.
- Wipe your genitalia properly. The correct way is from front to back. This is to avoid the spread of bacteria to the genitalia.
- Do not share washing tubs. Make sure you thoroughly clean the bathroom before using.
- Always practice safe sex, use of condoms is highly recommended.
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
- Barthorlins gland cyst (June 2013): http://www.webmd.com/women/tc/bartholin-gland-cyst-topic-overview#1
- Vulvodynia (June 2014): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vulvodynia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20341991