Many women experience swollen, itchy and strangely colored body parts during pregnancy – the most common area being their vulva. Often it can change color to darker red or purple and be swollen and sometimes even sore.
Women often worry that this could be due to sex, something they did or a sign of something wrong with themselves or their baby.
Another slang term for this is cheeseburger crotch.
So is it normal to have a swollen ‘downstairs’ during pregnancy?
It’s quite common but not always normal – the area has a higher blood supply so some swelling is common. In some cases it can also be caused by vulvar varicosities, which are varicose veins in the vaginal area, and aren’t always visible to the naked eye.
Swelling can also be caused by hormones, shaving too closely or even reactions to hygiene products. Women who’ve had multiple pregnancies are also more likely to experience it as their muscles may be weaker allowing areas swollen with blood to ‘bulge’ more. In some cases, it may also be trichomonas, caused by a vaginal parasite.
NOTE: If you’ve recently had thrush, you may need to get checked for chemical burns. In some cases, continual use of thrush creams can cause chemical burns, so make sure you do not use thrush creams for long lengths of time without talking to a medical professional. Chemical burns can have many of the same symptoms as thrush but will not get better with thrush treatments.
- Use medicated cooling pads, such as Tucks (right) which are fantastic for numbing the area as well as speeding up healing. They also contain witch hazel. These are a must have for postpartum recovery, too, as they can help with the soreness, swelling and hemorrhoids common after birth.
- Stop using soap. You should never clean your bikini area with anything other than water. Many types, such as vagisil, increase the risk of infection.
- Use a specially designed support garment.
- Elevate your pelvis.
- Change positions frequently – don’t sit or stand for long periods of time without a change.
- Apply ice (carefully) to the area, or use a cold compress. Alternatively, you may find that heat is a great way to decrease the pain and actually speed healing.
- Massage the area.
- Sleep with a pillow between your legs.
- Lay down and put your legs up against a wall for short periods of time.
- Do a daily inversion.
- Swim – this helps take some of the pressure off your pelvis and can aid blood flow.
- If you’re worried or feel something isn’t right, always seek medical advice.
When should you be worried?
If you experience bleeding, excessive or strong smelling discharge, lumps or burning, or anything bulging directly out of your vagina, you should see your medical care provider for further diagnosis.