Oh yay. I have an uncomfortable vagina now? Real talk: this whole growing a baby thing can have proper implications for your general pelvic area. And vaginal discomfort often comes with the territory here. So is it worth worrying about vaginal pain and pressure?
What exactly causes this discomfort? And what can you do about it?
What does it mean when you feel uncomfortable down there?
Vaginal comfort during pregnancy comes in a variety of genres: vaginal itching, vaginal burning, and of course, the infamous general heaviness. Sometimes all of this can happen simultaneously.
What causes vulvar discomfort?
Vaginal cramping and feelings of heaviness
Vaginal discomfort during early pregnancy
In the first few weeks of pregnancy, your uterus is expanding. (Think of it as major renos for the new house guest.) As it does, you may feel some cramping in your pelvic area. If this cramping doesn’t go away or is really painful, chat to your healthcare provider. Because the risk of miscarriage is at its highest during the first trimester, a little added TLC is needed.
Vaginal discomfort during late pregnancy:
In the second and third trimesters, vaginal discomfort is often caused by the fact that you have another human being inside you who is taking up a ton of space. This reality puts a whole lot of pressure on that magic menagerie of muscles called the pelvic floor.
Now, the pelvic floor is usually really good at bolstering the systems that reside in your lower half, creating an excellent support structure for the intestines, uterus, bladder, and rectum. So yes, when it’s not operating at its peak, things may feel more than a little uncomfortable.
If the pressure gets super intense, you might have what is known as POP (Pelvic Organ Prolapse) where your organs drop down from their usual position. This sounds really dramatic—but while it can be painful and cause other symptoms like incontinence, it is treatable. Get in touch with your healthcare provider. You don’t have to struggle through this alone.
Not only is that little human being taking up a lot of space, but they also have an exit strategy. To help them out with their escape plan, your body produces a hormone called relaxin. Its job is to relax the ligaments around the pelvis and assist with the opening of the cervix. That’s all great—except for the fact that in some women, relaxin also causes vaginal discomfort. Not so great.
But while this may be uncomfortable at the moment, it does mean that your body is doing the prep work it needs to be doing. (It definitely doesn’t mean that you just have to put on a brave face though. Talk to your doctor about relief.)
Vaginal itching and burning
While uncomfortable, vaginal itching is common during pregnancy. Here are some possible causes:
Yeast infection: If you suspect this, chat to your doctor as there is a chance you can pass it on to your baby during childbirth.
Bacterial vaginosis: This means the balance between good bacteria and bad bacteria is out of whack. You may experience a thin clear or gray discharge and a smell that you don’t love.
Hormonal changes: These cause all sorts of shifts in you, including drum roll vaginal dryness. This may make sex during pregnancy painful. Bottom line: only have sex when you want to. And lube is your friend.
UTIs. There’s a lot of pressure on your bladder right now and this, and/or contact with bacteria, can cause UTIs. Yes, these can be very uncomfortable. If caused by a particular bacteria called GBS, they can be harmful to your baby. Worth checking out.
STIs. If you have a rash, warts, and/or flu-like symptoms, check in with your healthcare provider. No shame.
Reactions to products. Soaps, douches, perfumes. You may just be extra sensitive right now.
How do you treat vaginal sensitivity?
Because there’s no one cause, there’s no one treatment. Here are some options:
Try pelvic floor exercises: Squeeze your anus and vagina together. Hold for 10 seconds. Release. Repeat.
Pregnancy massage: Removing some of the general tension you are experiencing can go a long way.
Ask your doctor about vaginal pessaries: These are removable devices that can be inserted into your vagina to support your pelvic floor. You need to get strict medical guidance here to help you through the process.
Stay hydrated. Not a bad idea anyway—but also goes a long way to alleviate pregnancy symptoms like UTIs and constipation.
Empty your bladder completely, especially after sex. This helps to stave off UTIs.
Avoid using any soaps/washes/douches that might give you a reaction.
Go commando. Specifically at night. Fresh air does wonders.
Use vaginal creams and/or suppositories to treat yeast infections. Your doctor may prescribe a treatment.
Take antibiotics as prescribed for certain STIs and bacterial infections.
No, this is not fun. But it’s also not forever. We’re rooting for you!
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