Labial Varicosities During Pregnancy

I am five weeks pregnant and have been experiencing some swelling, like hemorrhoids, in the vaginal area. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do to relieve the discomfort?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Many swellings can occur in pregnancy and may indicate various conditions. The best thing is, of course, to have your own provider look at this.

Swellings can occur as a result of infection, pressure and venous changes. Because you say that they are similar to hemorrhoids, it sounds as if it could be varicose veins. Varicosities can occur on the labia and perineum (between the vaginal opening and the anus). Usually, these occur as a result of increasing pressure of the growing uterus and the pooling of blood, which is normal for pregnancy. They are like bulges in the vessel wall and can be compressed with a finger but will refill right away when pressure is stopped. They are not sore but may be uncomfortable. The best treatment for these is rest.

Avoid sitting or being in one position for too long. Walking is good exercise because it keeps the blood moving.

They may go away in the second trimester but may reoccur with the increasing pressure of the third trimester. They never cause any harm, and the birth should not affect them. If an episiotomy needs to be done, it can be, as the swellings collapse during the procedure.

Relief can sometimes be found in applying counter pressure against them with a sanitary pad.

Other swellings may be caused by a mild prolapse of the vaginal walls, or the uterus itself; but this is usually the result of having several babies.

Genital or venereal warts (condyloma or human papilloma virus) are indicated by a single wart or clusters of warts. They feel gritty, and may spread. This is a virus, and should be treated with an acidic solution (trichloroacetic acid) during pregnancy.

Another type of swelling, usually caused by the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea, is the enlargement of the Bartholin gland. This gland sits in the middle of the labia and sometimes swells to the size of a plum. It is painful and usually inflamed. These must be drained if they are infected, and antibiotic therapy is what is used to treat it.

I would try to get an appointment right away to have this swelling investigated. The sooner the swelling is diagnosed, the quicker you can begin treatment and alleviate your discomfort.

I wish you well.

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