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As a woman becomes pregnant, a host of changes take place within her body. The internal organs move to make space for the growing foetus, and this is accompanied by hormonal changes that manifest as discomfort and changes in the circadian rhythms. Essentially, pregnancy does not come without a certain degree of pain.
A pregnant woman commonly experiences pain in various parts of her body, including her lower back, abdomen, breasts, and stomach. Some pregnant women may also experience pain in the vagina, with the pain either starting in the second trimester or sometimes even lasting throughout pregnancy. Let us take a look at the causes and cures for vaginal pain during pregnancy.
Types of Vaginal Pain During Pregnancy
The types of vaginal pain experienced by women can be broadly split into three types.
- Stabbing Pain: This is a common occurrence in pregnant women, with prickling pain also coming under this category. This normally occurs from the 5th to 8th week of pregnancy, due to the stretching of uterine muscles. Another reason for this pain is flatulence that occurs in the expecting mother’s intestines. If the pain starts around the 37th week, it is usually due to the upcoming event of childbirth.
- Nagging Pain: Nagging pain is a widespread problem among women, not just pregnant women. This is usually caused due to inflammatory processes taking place in the fallopian tubes or the cervix. If the pain subsides quickly after treatment, there is no reason to worry; however, if it keeps increasing, you must definitely pay the doctor a visit.
- Cutting Pain: Minor cutting pain during pregnancy is a common occurrence and is probably the result of the uterus growing in size to accommodate the foetus. However, this can also be a symptom of cystitis in the early stages of pregnancy. If the pain occurs in the later stages of pregnancy, you should immediately call the ambulance – it can be due to placental detachment. At the end of the day, you must always consult your doctor if you feel that the pain is growing or ominous.
What Causes Vaginal Pain?
The causes of vaginal pain during pregnancy are many, and they can be trivial or serious depending on the timing and intensity. Some of the causes are given below.
- Enlargement of the uterus: This is a common cause of vaginal pain during pregnancy. The uterus grows in size in order to accommodate the foetus, and this creates pressure on the vagina and the surrounding muscles.
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy is a time of many hormonal changes, and this can cause an uncharacteristic dryness in the vagina. This dryness can cause vaginal pain, especially during sexual intercourse.
- Growth of the foetus: As the size of the foetus in the uterus increases, the ligaments in the pelvic area also stretch to accommodate this growth. This can cause an overstretching of the ligaments and muscles surrounding the vagina, resulting in a sharp, shooting sensation of pain. The baby’s weight can press down on the pelvic floor, causing a dull pain in the vagina.
- Infection: If the pain you experience is in the external genital area and the vagina, the cause may be an infection in the area. If you suspect that your vagina is infected, immediately consult a doctor and confirm the diagnosis. The most common type of infection is called candida, which easily affects pregnant women as their immunity is much lower. Recovering from candida infections is also a long process, as cortisone medications are rarely prescribed during pregnancy.
- Dilation of the cervix: The cervix dilating can result in a sharp and shooting pain in the vagina. The dilation takes place in the latter stages of pregnancy; a few weeks before labour occurs. This is not a cause for concern. However, if the pain is in the lower abdomen or if it increases, you should consult your doctor.
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP): POP is a condition during pregnancy where organs in or near the pelvis move down, sometimes into the vagina or the rectum. If the pressure around the vagina is really strong, it could be a sign of POP. If you feel intense pressure, find it hard to control your bowel, or feel something pushing down on your vagina, consult your doctor immediately. POP is treatable, but it can cause complications and intense pain.
How to Treat Pregnancy Vaginal Pain
Vaginal pain is sure to occur at some stage in every expecting mother, so it is helpful to know how to alleviate vaginal pain during pregnancy. Pain relief medications can provide temporary respite, so it is better to consult the doctor always.
- Lying down on your left side can improve your blood circulation and relieve vaginal pressure.
- Similarly, sitting down with your feet elevated can greatly reduce vaginal pressure during pregnancy, and consequently, vaginal pain.
- In some women, cervix pain during pregnancy can be relieved by simply lying down and keeping the hips elevated.
- Warm baths act as a great measure against vaginal pain.
- Simple exercises like swimming and yoga can improve circulation in the body and also strengthen the muscles. They will do a lot in relieving vaginal pain.
- A pelvic massage, if done after medical advice and with the help of a trained professional, can help relieve vaginal pain and offer support to your pelvis.
- Doing kegel exercises regularly can help relieve vaginal pressure and pain.
- It always helps to remain active during pregnancy. Doing light exercises for at least 30 minutes every day will not only help regulate the different processes of your body, but will also help relieve vaginal pain by strengthening muscles.
- If your tummy is huge, it might be that the baby’s head is exerting pressure on to the vagina. Wearing a pregnancy support belt relieves that pressure.
Vaginal pain during pregnancy can be uncomfortable even though it is a common problem among women. A few lifestyle changes can help relieve vaginal pain, but always consult your doctor if you feel that the pain is worse than normal.
Resources and References: Healthline
Also Read: Vaginal Changes during Pregnancy