What swollen vulva lips say about your vaginal health

Swollen vulva lips or a labia swelling can be worrying. An expert tells you the likely conditions that may cause this and the ways to prevent it.

Swollen vulva lips causes
Know the reason behind swollen vulva lips. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Bharathi Ramesh Updated on: 23 November 2022, 17:38 pm IST
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When intimate health and hygiene are the concern, many women find themselves confused when they witness some unusual symptom. Swollen vulva lips is one such symptom that is often overlooked when it comes to vaginal health. The ‘lips’ of the vagina are referred to as the labia. The inner lip leading to the vagina is known as the labia minora, while labia majora is a fold of skin on the exterior of the vaginal area.

Together, thes serve as a barrier against discomfort and damage to the clitoris and vagina. The size of the labia can differ from woman to woman and even from one side of the labia to the other.

On the other hand, labia can swell and hurt noticeably due to infections, allergies, cysts and other diseases. It is usually the case with a lot of women, but they ignore the occurrence. That can cause more harm in the long run. Let’s know more about the complications associated with a swollen vulva lips.

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What are symptoms of swollen labia?

You may experience symptoms like:

* Itching or burning in the genital area, with vaginal discharge.
* A bad vaginal odor
* A little bump on the labia pain when standing or sitting.
* Labia inflammation.

Why does this happen?

It is not astonishing that both the labia majora and minora are prone to swelling as these tissues are sensitive in nature. Most common causes of swollen vulva lips can include:

1. Candida infections

The labia can become swollen, blistering, itchy and inflamed due to yeast overgrowth, the most typical culprit being Candida. Overuse of antibiotic medicines, pregnancy, diabetes, or the use of oral contraceptives are all potential causes of this overgrowth. A discharge that resembles cottage cheese may also occur in women suffering from this condition.

2. Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis develops when there is enough of bacteria in the vagina, much like a yeast infection. Douching, having several sex partners, or even having a low concentration of the “good” bacteria in your vagina might induce this, and can allow the “bad” bacteria to take control.

Vaginal swelling
Protect from vaginal health from infections and inflammation. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Allergies

Your skin is likely to swell when it comes into contact with something it is allergic to. Therefore, redness and vulvar inflammation are prevalent when the labia are irritated by allergens such as scents in soap or detergent, latex in condoms or because of textiles in apparel.

4. Bartholin’s cyst

Bartholin’s cysts affect women, usually those in their 20s. When the Bartholin glands, which are located directly outside the vagina, get obstructed, these cysts develop. These glands provide moisture, which aids in lubricating the vagina for sex. Many females will become aware of their cyst once it becomes infected. The skin around the vagina and labia may become uncomfortable and irritated due to the cyst.

5. Lack of lubrication during sex

The intense friction during intercourse might harm your labia and the entire vaginal region if it isn’t adequately lubricated. Ensure vaginal lubrication before you go for intercourse.

How to treat swollen vulva lips?

You need to consult a gynecologist if you see such symptoms. Share your symptoms, sexual and medical history, as well as general health with the expert.

If you have an infection, a swab or a tissue sample may be collected and sent to a lab to identify whether it is bacterial, parasitic or fungal in origin.

If needed, a few scans for cysts would be done. It can be treated with various antibiotics and over-the-counter creams and medications.

healthy practices for vagina
Ensure healthy vaginal practices. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

But there is always a way you can choose to prevent swollen labia in the future.

* Use a cool compress to reduce the swelling there.
* Try many warm (not hot) baths each day if a cyst is causing pain and swelling, and use over-the-counter pain relievers.
* Avoid douching. The regular balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the vagina may be disturbed.
* Wearing tight pantyhose or tight undergarments is not recommended. Tight clothing traps heat and restricts airflow, which promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi.
* Avoid using perfumed feminine products and detergents if you think you might be sensitive to them.
* Discuss other birth control options with your doctor if you have a spermicide or latex allergy.
* To reduce friction during sex, use a lubricant.
* Add probiotics and yogurt to the diet.

The last word

Vaginal infection can be a tough experience with all the discomfort it comes with. But fortunately, it is easily treatable and preventable.

 

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About the Author
Dr Bharathi Ramesh Dr Bharathi Ramesh

Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Banashankari, Bengaluru

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