Vaginal pain is common in women. But when you have it during pregnancy and have it frequently, then you tend to worry if the pain indicates something serious.
Vaginal pain during pregnancy is not a sign of any serious complication, in most cases. Then why do you have this pain, does it indicate anything and how to get relief from it?
MomJunction gives you answers to all these questions. Read on to know them.
What Causes Vaginal Pain During Pregnancy?
If you are having vaginal or pelvic pain during pregnancy, it could be due to several reasons as your body adapts to the new changes. Following are the reasons that are likely to cause the pain region.
- Ectopic pregnancy: Vaginal pain is one of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy (1), which is usually difficult to diagnose. The other symptoms of this pregnancy are abnormal bleeding, sore breasts, dizziness, lower back pain, fainting, shortness of breath, and low blood pressure.
- Increased blood flow: During pregnancy, there is an increased flow of blood around the uterus (2), which can cause pain in the vaginal area. It gets tender and swollen even when nudged. Pain could also be due to vaginal varicosity or enlarged blood vessels in the pelvic area in some cases.
- Infections: Vaginal pain may also occur due to fungal infections around the vaginal region. Sometimes, pelvic/ vaginal infections cause pain along with other symptoms such as vaginal discharge, nausea, diarrhea or backache. Candidiasis is a common infection in pregnant women (3). Urinary infection in pregnancy can sometimes have vaginal pressure and discomfort only and may not have other symptoms like urgency or frequency.
- Cervix dilation: If it is a stabbing pain especially in the later stage of pregnancy, it could be due to the dilation of the cervix (4). The cervix dilates a few weeks before labor, and that can cause pain along with bleeding. Preterm labor is the most significant issue that can present as vaginal pressure or pain.
- Fetal pressure: The growing fetus puts pressure on the pelvic area that stretches the ligaments and muscles causing pinching pain. This pain may last for a few seconds or minutes and sometimes longer. It can occur in the first trimester when the uterus is enlarging and putting pressure on the bladder and rectum, or in the second trimester when the baby is pressing against the pelvic region or in the third trimester as the baby is moving down.
Vaginal pain could also occur due to other reasons such as constipation and gassiness following sexual intercourse or improper exercise or wrong sleeping postures or just stress.
Cramp-like vaginal pain, along with bleeding, can indicate a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy in the early part of pregnancy. Therefore, if you feel pain in your vagina, try to identify if it is a common or a serious issue.
Types Of Vaginal Pain
Observing the pain and identifying its type will also help you to explain the symptoms to your doctor.
- Mild stabbing vaginal pain: The prickling pain is very common among pregnant women. It occurs due to the stretching of uterine muscles around the fifth to 12th week or gas formation or constipation. If you experience this type of pain around the 37th week, it might be due to the upcoming labor or just the baby trying to get into pelvis. There is no reason to worry if the pain is minor and does not last long. However, if it is associated with bleeding, you should see a doctor.
- Nagging vaginal pain: This pain is experienced by both pregnant and non-pregnant women. It occurs due to inflammation in the pelvic organs. If the pain is accompanied by contractions or is gradually increasing, then discuss with your doctor.
- Cutting vaginal pain: In most cases, minor, cutting pain may occur due to the growing uterus. It could also be a symptom of cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). If the pain is severe in the later stages of pregnancy, it may be due to placental detachment or abruption of the placenta.
Whatever might be the type of pain, talk to your doctor about it. They will examine and advise you accordingly. In general, if the pain is becoming frequent, getting more intense with time, associated with tightening of uterus, vaginal bleeding or increased vaginal discharge, then it might be progression of labor. You might need to be checked for labor onset or progression.
How Would The Vaginal Pain Affect Your Daily Life?
The pain will have an impact on the joints, bones, and muscles. Walking, driving over uneven roads, and climbing stairs can aggravate the pain. You might feel increased pressure on the vagina as you move towards delivery. The pain and pressure can aggravate as the baby drops into the pelvic region to prepare itself for delivery.
Care and attention at home would help you get some relief from the pain.
Ways To Get Relief From Vaginal Pain During Pregnancy
In most cases, vaginal pain would subside with some simple measures. Here are a few ways to get relief:
- Lie down on your left as it improves blood circulation and reduces vaginal pressure.
- When sitting, keep your feet elevated to get some relief from the pressure and pain.
- Warm water baths help you relax. You might also stand under the shower and allow the water to fall on your back.
- Lie down with hips elevated.
- Get a pelvic massage by a trained masseuse.
- Do some simple exercises such as yoga and swimming after getting clearance from your doctor. They improve blood circulation and strengthen muscles, thereby relieving the pain.
- Pelvic exercises such as pelvic rolls and tilts also help.
- Use support belts that are designed to support the belly, lower back, pelvis, and hips.
Also, avoid jerky movements and sudden twists at the waist. Do not take pain relief medications without a prescription.
When To See A Doctor
Use your prenatal appointment with your doctor to talk about vaginal pain, if it is mild.
But if the pain is intense, and is accompanied by a fever, headache, dizziness, bleeding, painful urination, frequency of urination, change in baby movements and swelling of the face, hands, and feet, seek medical help. Prompt treatment helps in avoiding any complications.
What Is The Difference Between Vaginal Pain And Pressure?
Most times, we tend to mistake pain for pressure. Pain is sharp enough to make you difficult to walk, while pressure is similar to the ache you experience during menstrual cramps and is spread to the lower back too.
In most cases, vaginal pain may not lead to any emergencies during pregnancy. If the pain is mild or moderate, follow the relief measures and it might be gone soon. But, if the pain is intense and frequent, do not neglect; check with your healthcare provider. Sometimes, seemingly benign symptoms of pelvic pressure might be the first symptom of cervical incompetence or preterm labor.
Have you experienced vaginal pain during pregnancy? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.