Here's a question you probably won't ask your mother-in-law: is it your imagination, or does your vulva become thicker during pregnancy? According to Jeanne Faulkner, RN, podcaster and author of the book Common Sense Pregnancy, vulvar swelling — or at least the sensation of it — is totally a thing. She says that any thickening feeling down there probably results from the fact that during pregnancy "there's a whole lot more circulatory volume — there's simply more fluids in the blood vessels. When you're pregnant, you're circulating a lot more blood to the placenta and the fetus." She's heard women describe both the vagina and the vulva most often as simply feeling "thicker."
According to Faulkner, the feeling is generally nothing to worry about, but in extremely rare cases, blood vessels might dilate too much, leading to varicose veins. Yes, Mayo Clinic's Expert Blog confirmed it: varicose veins in your vulva are also totally a thing. Isn't pregnancy just full of surprises?
Especially as your pregnancy nears its end, vaginal and vulvar thickening is expected in the ninth month, noted The Bump. By then, all that extra blood coursing through your body has probably made just about everything feel a little swollen. The upside to this increased blood flow to your unmentionables? Sex may feel even more awesome.
The feeling of vulvar swelling is one of those unexpected bonuses of a body suddenly colonized by a tiny, adorable human. Because the pregnant body undergoes so many changes, it's impossible to warn anyone about all of them. What To Expect When You're Expecting would have to be a million pages long to answer all our questions. Thankfully, the internet has got you covered.
Gaiam.com reported that vulvar swelling could also result from too much sitting. In that case, a little gentle yoga could go a long way. Try legs up the wall pose, or take a swim to relieve the pressure. A dip in the ocean or the pool relieves you of the problem of gravity (the nemesis of all pregnant people) and may make you feel like your old self, if only for a while.
The bottom line here: if your vulva feels thicker during pregnancy, don't worry. Most likely, it's just another unexpected part of pregnancy's wild ride.