Pregnancy wasn’t kind to my body. I didn’t glow; my face was more like an oil slick with a sprinkling of hormonal acne. My nose got fat. My feet grew, bringing them from a normal-ish size 9 to a clown-shoe size 10 (Seriously, have you seen size 10 shoes? They’re like skis). I gained excessive amounts of weight, garnering regular lectures from my doctor and raised eyebrows from people who had seen me pre-pregnancy.
I grew a beard. A BEARD, YOU GUYS.
But for some reason, glutton for punishment that I am (Or irresistible sexpot? We’ll go with that one), I let this happen four times. And by my fourth pregnancy, I had seen it all, every weird gestational quirk from nosebleeds to nausea, stretch marks to skin tags. There was nothing my pregnant body could do that would surprise me.
Or so I thought.
Until that day I realized something was amiss… down south. As it was, with my fourth pregnancy, it felt like a 50-pound sack of potatoes was sitting directly on my tailbone, so my back and hips always ached. But I had started to feel a weird, aching “fullness” down there, like something was swollen or bloated, like all the blood in my body was pooling in my lady bits.
At first, I chalked it up to pressure from the freakishly large fetus I was lugging around in my pelvic cavity, though I’d never felt it quite that much with any of my previous pregnancies. I kept telling myself I only had a couple weeks left before vacating this baby and getting the hell back to normal. Well, as “normal” as one can be with a new baby, that is.
But the swollen feeling persisted, and it really started bugging me, especially when it began to be accompanied by a weird twinge in my right labia, a mild, but annoying bee sting sort of sensation. It would even itch sometimes. And that’s when I decided to get a mirror and check out my business.
Rather than attempting to use a hand mirror and risk breaking my neck trying to see around my boulder of a midsection, I opted to take down a full-sized mirror and put it on the floor, propped against the wall. Then I de-pantsed, spread ‘em open, and scooted toward it with my goods on full display, praying nobody walked in on this unsightly process. And what I saw was nothing short of horrifying, ranking right up there with the time I discovered my beard.
A labial interloper.
It was a vein, looking like a lumpy worm. Blue and bulging, it snaked along one side of my particulars. No wonder I had been experiencing so much discomfort; it literally hurt just to look at it, not to mention it gave me a squeamish feeling because there was a gross vein on my hoo-ha.
As soon as I got off the floor (I mean, it took a minute because I was the size of a Volkswagen), I rushed (all right, waddled) to the phone and dialed my doctor.
The official diagnosis, vulvar varicosity. In other words, a varicose vein in a place where no one ever wants a varicose vein. You know, like the kind your grandma has on the backs of her legs — only these are on your clam. They usually happen during the last trimester of pregnancy when the baby starts to put more pressure on the veins in the vaginal area. The extra pressure can cause veins to bulge, creating sensations like the ones I’ve described — not to mention the unnerving knowledge that such a situation is going on down there. *shudder*
As gross and uncomfortable as they are, vaginal varicose veins aren’t an emergency, and they don’t interfere with normal vaginal birth. If you find yourself with one of these unfortunate monstrosities, there’s nothing you can do to make it go away any more quickly (booo), but there are steps you can take to provide a little bit of comfort in the meantime (yay!). Dr. Lindsay Borden, a Virginia-based OB-GYN, advises that anything which helps relieve pressure in the lower extremities will be a relief. She recommends maternity compression stockings (you can buy them online and at some drugstores), leg elevation, mild exercise, and avoiding staying in the same position — whether standing or sitting — for too long.
The good news is, it isn’t permanent. “The vast majority will regress spontaneously in the early postpartum period, or within six weeks,” Dr. Borden told Scary Mommy. Mine went away within just a few days, which was a tremendous relief.
Because postpartum vaginas have been through more than enough.
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