Perineum swelling is the inflammation of the area between the vaginal opening and the anus, commonly occurring during pregnancy as the baby grows.
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, but it can also be filled with some uncomfortable side effects. Perineum swelling is perfectly normal and will go away after delivery. However, you can do a few things to help ease the discomfort and reduce the swelling. This blog post will discuss the cause of perineum swelling, what’s normal and when to seek help, and provide women with five tips for easing discomfort and reducing swelling.
Cause of Perineum Swelling
The perineum is the area of skin and muscle between the vagina and anus. This area stretches during childbirth to allow your baby to pass through. Perineum swelling can occur when the tissues around the perineum become stretched and thinned out from the added pressure. In some cases, perineal trauma can occur without any tearing. This is usually caused by excessive stretching or forceful pushing. Swelling is also common after an episiotomy, a surgical incision made in the perineum to enlarge the vaginal opening.
Other causes of perineum swelling can include:
- Edema (fluid retention) can be caused by various things, such as standing for long periods, being overweight or hormone changes.
- A perineal infection may occur if bacteria enter the tissues through a tear or incision. UTI infection is also a common cause of perineum swelling.
- Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and rectum that cause pain and inflammation.
- As the baby grows, the woman’s blood volume increases, leading to swelling in other areas of the body, such as the perineum.
- Tight clothing, such as undergarments or jeans, can restrict blood flow and lead to perineal swelling.
What Is Normal and When to Seek Help
Perineum swelling is a common and normal occurrence during pregnancy. Swelling can range from mild to severe and usually goes away after delivery. In some cases, perineal trauma can occur without any tearing. This is usually caused by excessive stretching or forceful pushing. Swelling is also common after an episiotomy; you may experience the following:
- Pain during sex.
- Difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement.
- Chronic pain in the perineum or vulva area.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention:
- Bleeding from the perineum is not normal and should be evaluated by a doctor
- Thick, greenish discharge may indicate an infection.
- Fever, chills or nausea could be signs of a perineal infection.
- Swelling that lasts more than two weeks after delivery could be a sign of a seroma (a collection of fluid under the skin).
- A healthcare provider should evaluate unrelenting pain or discomfort in the perineum.
- Redness, warmth, soreness or itching in the perineum may be signs of an infection.
How to Ease Discomfort and Reduce Swelling
You can do a few things to ease the discomfort and reduce perineum swelling. Below are five tips:
- Apply a cold compress or use ice packs or frozen vegetables to reduce swelling. Applying a cold compress or placing the pack or veggies on the perineum area for fifteen minutes several times a day can help reduce inflammation and swelling.
- Take a warm bath. Soaking in a warm bath may help relieve pain and relax the muscles around the perineum. Add some soothing aromatherapy or Epsom salts to your bath for an extra level of relief.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton. Tight clothes, such as undergarments or jeans, can restrict blood flow and lead to perineal swelling. Opt for loose-fitting clothing instead to allow air to circulate around the area. You can also use perineal pads; these are special pads that you can wear during pregnancy and after delivery to help protect the perineum from further injury.
- Perineal massage involves massaging the perineum with your fingers in a circular motion. Start slowly and increase the pressure as needed. Massaging may help to reduce swelling and improve blood circulation.
- Elevate your legs and avoid sitting for long periods. Try to prop your legs up on a stool or pillow if you must sit. This will help to reduce the buildup of fluid in the perineal area.
These are just some tips that may help during your pregnancy. Speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.