Do itching, burning, and generally uncomfortable feelings have you squirming in your seat all day? Do you find yourself taking extra showers to attempt to wash away whatever is irritating you down there? Does it hurt or feel uncomfortable when you pee and wipe? If so, you may have an inflamed vulva.
Let’s face it; not much is worse than having an itchy crotch. The more it itches, the worse you need to scratch or dig or pull or twist to find relief. The problem is that the more you dig and scratch, the more you irritate the delicate skin of your vulva. The more you irritate that skin the worse off you’ll be.
If your vulva is inflamed, even the softest pair of 100% cotton panties will probably be uncomfortable to you. Your favorite pair of skinny jeans? Forget about it. Unfortunately, not even going commando will give you the relief you need.
So what’s causing your lady bits to be so unhappy, and what exactly is going on down there? What is it that’s actually inflamed and itching? If you’re wondering, “what is my vulva and why is it inflamed?” we can help. We can give you the scoop on what’s going on and how you can get relief fast.
Let’s look at what made this part of your anatomy angry, and what it is in the first place.
What is the Vulva?
Vulva is basically a fancy term for your crotch. No, seriously. Your vulva is the exterior portion of the female genitalia.
Starting from the top of your vulva (the part closest to your pubic mound) and working downward toward your anus, your vulva includes these certain parts:
– Clitoris and clitoral hood. We’re guessing you’re probably familiar with your clit, but if not, your clitoris is a little bundle of nerves that serves no other purpose than to give you pleasure. The clitoris sits at the top of your vulva and is covered by a flap of protective skin called the clitoral hood.
– Labia Majora. Also referred to as your outer labia, these are the outer lips or folds of skin that surround your vaginal opening. This is the largest part of your vulva, and it’s the part that you can sometimes see if your leggings or swimsuit are especially tight.
– Labia Minora. Also known as your inner labia, the labia minora consists of the thin folds of skin inside your labia majora that are closest to your vaginal opening.
(A little side note about inner labia:
We get weird about what we think they should and shouldn’t look like. Don’t bother losing sleep over this. This skin is extremely delicate, and different from person to person.
If your inner labia don’t stay “inside” your outer labia, that’s totally normal. Promise. Additionally, the color of your inner labia can range from light pink all the way to deep purple. If you’re still not convinced, check out the labia library to compare notes.)
– Urethral meatus. This is the opening of our urethra. If you’ve ever wondered where your pee comes out, this is the spot. It’s located below the clitoris, just inside the top of the inner labia.
– Introitus. This is your vaginal opening.
– Perineum. This is the portion of skin between your vaginal opening and your anus. If you do a Kegel exercise, you’ll feel the contraction in this area.
The vulva is a small area with a lot of parts, and anytime one of those parts gets upset for whatever reason it can make you feel incredibly uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the possible reasons why your vulva is ticked, and how to fix it.
Possible Causes Of An Inflamed Vulva
Your vulva could be inflamed from a variety of things. Underwear that is made from irritating fabric, clothing that is too tight, staying in gym clothes for too long can all be culprits. This area of your body is warm and moist, making it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Your vagina is host to countless bacteria. It’s like a little microbiome of healthy and happy organisms ensuring your vaginal pH is in normal range. But, when there’s an issue that causes overgrowth of certain bacteria, things get complicated and uncomfortable. You can develop an infection when this happens, which can cause your vulva to become inflamed.
Here are some of the most common causes infections:
– Hormone changes. Your hormones can change because of a pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause, or even a hysterectomy.
– Sex. It’s not rocket science, bacteria from one person transfers to another, and boom, you’ve got an infection. Don’t commit to celibacy just yet; you’re not going to get an infection every time you have sex, but there is a risk of infection, especially with new partners, not using protection, and going from a party in the back to a party in the front.
– Diabetes. If you’re a diabetic whose blood sugar is not well-regulated, you are at higher risk of developing conditions like yeast infections. The elevated sugar level in your blood feeds yeast bacteria, which causes them to grow.
– Certain medications. Antibiotics are famous for causing yeast infections, which is why some women decide to take a probiotic along with them.
– Tight, damp clothing. If you’re staying in your sweaty gym clothes for long periods of time after your workout, you’re giving bacteria the perfect opportunity to collect and multiply.
– Douches, bath products. Your vagina is a self cleaning oven; you don’t need to douche to clean it. Using douches can harm levels of normal, healthy bacteria and cause infections. Bath products like heavily scented bubble bath, soaps, and gels can also harm the delicate balance of your vaginal microbiome.
Pro tip: If you find your vulva to be especially sensitive to soaps and bath products, you’re not alone. It’s actually a really common problem. Try using a fragrance free, hypoallergenic vaginal wash that doesn’t interfere with your vagina’s natural pH balance.
How To Know If You Have An Infection
Are you just dealing with irritation or do you actually have an infection? Sometimes, it can be hard to tell. Two of the most common vaginal infections that can cause your vulva to be inflamed are bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections. Here’s how to tell if you’ve got either one.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
BV is a pretty common vaginal infection that can spread to your vulva and make you seriously uncomfy. Here are some of the common symptoms you’ll experience with BV.
– Itching and burning, inside your vaginal opening, and on your vulva. You can also experience a burning sensation when you pee.
– Thin, yellow, green, or greyish discharge.
– Odor. Strong, fish-like odor that is especially noticeable after you have sex or immediately after your period.
– Pain during sex.
If you’ve got BV, you may be seriously miserable. Thankfully, you don’t have to call the doc just yet. You can alleviate the symptoms you experience from BV in the privacy of your own home, without a prescription. VeeCleanse is a once a day vaginal suppository that helps you deal with BV naturally and comfortably.
Chances are, you’re going to have a yeast infection at some point in your life. Yeast infections start inside your vagina, but you’ll experience symptoms on your vulva, too. Here’s what you can look for:
– Burning and itching inside the vagina and on the vulva. The itch that comes along with a yeast infection is really awful; it can feel like it will never stop.
– Thick, chunky, white discharge. Often referred to as “cottage-cheese like.”
– Burning and pain during urination and/or sex.
An inflamed vulva is extremely uncomfortable, but you definitely are not alone. Many women experience this issue and there are easy ways to treat it. Once you figure out what’s causing the inflammation you’ll be back on track. Your discomfort will decrease quickly and you’ll be enjoying life again in no time. Don’t stress girl, you are going to be fine!
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.