What is vulvar swelling?
First, it is important to define what the vulva is. Many people interchange the words vulva and vagina, however, they are not the same. The vulva is a collective term for the parts of the female genitalia that are seen from the outside. This includes structures such as the mons pubis, labia, and clitoris. On the other hand, the vagina is the inner canal that leads to the uterus. Occasionally, the vulva can become swollen (vulvitis). While most cases are harmless, it may also indicate severe illnesses. Vulvar swelling can either be generalized or present in a specific area.
Generalized swelling is also referred to as edema. Edema occurs when there is excess fluid in the body’s tissues. As a result, the skin becomes red and swollen. Edema may be due to allergic reactions and exposure to irritants. Other times, it may be a symptom of an infection, such as yeast infection. On the other hand, defined areas of vulvar swelling may be caused by cysts or tumors.
What are the symptoms of vulvar swelling?
In general, vulvar swelling is easily treated. However, you should also look out for signs of infection, especially when the swelling is accompanied by severe pain and discomfort.
The most common symptoms accompanying vulvar swelling are:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Vulvar itching
- Pain during and after intercourse
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Blisters and sores on the vulva
Swelling can also be accompanied by symptoms that are less common. These include:
- High fever
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal and pelvic pain
When should I see my doctor?
Vulvar swelling is not usually a cause of concern. In most cases, it goes away on its own or is easily treated. However, it may also indicate a serious health condition. Seek medical help when the symptoms become too painful, unbearable, or if it comes back even after treatment. Anyone who experiences a swollen vulva should also look out for signs of infection, such as high fever and fatigue.