What is vaginal swelling?

Swelling of the vagina can be generalized or may be present only in a limited location. Generalized swelling is known as edema. Edema results from fluid filling the tissues and may be associated with normal-looking, red or blotchy overlying skin. In inflammation, the skin is often swollen and red and may be warm to the touch.

Edema may be due to problems with the blood vessels or lymphatics (small, thin vessels that carry tissue fluid) and can also follow trauma. Inflammation can be due to allergy, irritation or infections. Allergy and irritation may be due to exposure to soaps, feminine hygiene products, perfumes, lubricants, douches, creams, or latex. Yeast infections and genital herpes are infections that can cause generalized vaginal swelling. An uncommon cause of generalized vaginal swelling is Fournier’s gangrene, a severe and life-threatening bacterial infection of the genital area that spreads from the urinary or gastrointestinal tracts.

Defined areas of swelling may be due to cysts or abscesses. Cysts of the vaginal wall can result from birth trauma or may form around Gartner’s ducts, ducts that form during fetal development and typically disappear after birth. Some vaginal tumors can also cause cysts. Bartholin’s glands, glands located on either side of the vaginal opening, can fill up with fluid, which can become infected and form abscesses.

The first step to treating vaginal swelling is identifying the cause. Inflammation may be treated by avoiding exposure to any irritants or allergens that can be identified. Antifungal drugs can be given to treat yeast infections, and antiviral drugs may be used to manage genital herpes symptoms. Cysts and abscesses may need to be drained or removed; antibiotics may be used for abscesses.

Vaginal swelling may be due to a treatable condition or may be a sign of a serious medical condition. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have vaginal swelling accompanied by severe pain, severe swelling, high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), or excessive vaginal bleeding.

If your vaginal swelling is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with vaginal swelling?

Vaginal swelling may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the reproductive tract may also involve other body systems.

Reproductive tract symptoms that may occur along with vaginal swelling

Vaginal swelling may accompany other symptoms affecting the reproductive tract including: Read more about vaginal swellingsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes vaginal swelling?

Vaginal swelling can occur due to edema, inflammation, infection, cysts, abscesses or tumors. Edema may occur with conditions affecting other body systems, while the rest of the causes of vaginal swelling tend to only affect the vagina and reproductive organs.

Local causes of vaginal swelling

Vaginal swelling may be caused by diseases, disorders or conditions that affec... Read more about vaginal swellingcauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.