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Swollen vaginal lips are certainly not the most pleasant condition, but in this article, we will try to help you understand why it happened to you and how you can get through it.
Where there is swelling, there is a pain, and due to the location and origin of this pain, you might not be able to do all the regular daily things you are used to. In some cases, this pain can be quite severe and debilitating, but this rarely happens.
As you already know, the most predominant symptom of swollen vaginal lips is a pain. The pain is, of course, made worse when moving… Most patients also note that sleeping on their stomach is virtually impossible, so changing your sleeping patterns should be a good idea, until the pain goes away.
Another thing to keep in mind is selecting appropriate underwear. Goes without saying that you should wear something comfortable… Maybe even go commando, if you can.
As for the cream, we know that many of you will probably reach for some generic, over-the-counter cream, and avoid going to the doctor altogether. We urge you not to do this since putting the wrong cream onto such a delicate area may cause harm and irritation.
All in all, getting yourself checked out by a professional is the best thing you can do.
Anatomy of The Vagina
This is going to be a short overview of the anatomy of the vagina, just to give you some idea as to why your vaginal lips can be sore and painful.
The vagina is a part of a woman’s genital tract, and it “stretches out” from the vulva and the labia(vaginal lips) to cervix of the uterus. It is an opening between the urethra and anus, and during sexual intercourse, it receives the penis.
Another structure we can mention here is hymen. This is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. This layer will tear or rupture during sexual intercourse.
As for the color, it can change over the years. In your 20’s the color of the vagina is usually pink and everything is as it should be. When you enter 30’s (and beyond), you might notice a slight change in color due to hormones, pregnancy (f you’ve been pregnant) so your inner lips and vaginal opening may become darker.
Some other causes of changes in color are due to weight gain, vitamin deficiency, regular shaving, cosmetic products you use, etc.
The Anatomy Of The Vaginal Lips(Labia)
Vaginal lips are the structure that primarily protects the opening to your vagina, so their role is a crucial one.
In humans, there are two parts of labia: Labia Majora and Labia Minora. Labia majora is the outer, larger and fatter labia, the main reason for this is the fat tissue. Labia minora, on the other hand, is soft and thin as it is fat-free.
The reason we are “interested” in inner lips today is that at their base (on either side of the vaginal opening), we can find Bartholin’s glands. These pea sized glands are responsible for lubricating the vaginal opening, and if these get inflamed or develop a cyst, your vaginal lips will become swollen.
Causes of swollen vaginal lips
Now, after we’ve covered the anatomy of the vagina and the inner and outer vaginal lips, we can discuss the reasons for the swelling and pain in this region. Keep in mind that these causes are interlinked (one can lead to the other), but we decided to present them in the form of a list, just to help you navigate more quickly:
- Yeast infection
- Shaving injury
- Blocked glands
- This is very rare, but jockeys can have swollen lips, because of riding a horse
- Ingrown hair
As you can see, most of these symptoms are benign and can go away on their own, but there are those that won’t, such as yeast infection or a cyst in one of the glands. And this is why we are going to talk a bit more about these two in the following paragraphs.
Yeast infection is surprisingly common, as much as 70-80% of all women have had this infection at some point in their life. It is important to note that there is even bacteria and fungus in a healthy vagina. The problems start when these numbers go over a certain limit, and the good bacteria starts overpopulating and hurting your organism.
Vaginal yeast infection (or vaginitis) is caused by a species of fungus called candida.
Some of the main symptoms of a yeast infection are:
- Vaginal discharge
- Intense itching, burning, and irritation
- Localized swelling and pain
How can I avoid Candida?
One of the main reasons candid over-populates is eating sugar. When we eat sugar, we provide a fantastic energy source for this fungus, and they start growing like crazy. And before you know it, you will notice itching, burning, and discomfort in the vaginal area.
Yeast infection may appear as a result of a compromised immune system. Various factors can lead to a weakened immune system, some of those are:
- Being overweight
- Pregnancy and
Another major problem we encounter in our daily life is stress. As a society, we don’t talk much about stress and its devastating effects on our body and minds. We used to think that stress only affected our mind, but now we know that it can present itself with a genuine, palpable problems with our entire body.
Daily stress (at your job or home) will weaken your immune system over time and allow these bacteria and fungus to grow and bring harm to the body.
One last thing – buying medication without a prescription and without consulting your doctor. This is one of the more dangerous practices, but everyone does it. There are some conditions and drugs that you can use without having to worry, but if you are taking antibiotics, for example, you need professional advice.
Cysts – Bartholin Gland Cyst
We already mentioned these cysts previously, but now we are going to go more in-depth.
Bartholin glands are a set of small glands located underneath the skin, to the left and the right of the vaginal opening. The primary role of these glands is to produce fluid and lubricate the outer genital area. This fluid is “transported” from the glands to the surface of the skin by tiny tubes called Bartholin ducts.
Now, when these ducts get blocked, the fluid builds up in a gland, forming a cyst. The ducts can become blocked due to various reasons, usually due to some infection of thick mucus, but the good news is, this condition usually goes away on its own.
Obviously, if you feel discomfort spanning across several days, you will want to pay a visit to your doctor and, in case of an infection, get appropriate treatment.
Image 1 credit: http://www.webmd.com/women/picture-of-the-vagina#1
Image 2 credit: