- Vaginal cysts can be caused by injury during childbirth, fluid buildup in your glands, or benign tumors within the vagina.
- You may notice a small lump on the wall of your vagina or experience discomfort during sex if you have a vaginal cyst.
- If the cyst causes an infection or abscess, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Vaginal cysts are closed pockets of air, fluid, or pus located on or under the vaginal lining. There are several types of vaginal cysts, which can be caused by injury during childbirth, fluid buildup in your glands, or benign (noncancerous) tumors within the vagina.
The cysts typically don’t cause any symptoms, but they can sometimes cause discomfort. Vaginal cysts typically remain small and often don’t require treatment. However, different types of cysts may become enlarged and lead to pain, itching, or an increased risk of infection.
There are many types of vaginal cysts. The most common types include vaginal inclusion cysts, Gartner’s duct cysts, and Bartholin’s cysts.
Vaginal Inclusion Cysts
Vaginal inclusion cysts are the most common type of vaginal cysts. These may occur during the birth of a baby or after a surgery. This type of cyst is caused by an injury to the wall of the vagina.
Gartner’s Duct Cysts
The Gartner’s duct develops when a woman is pregnant. The duct usually disappears after giving birth. However, if the duct remains after giving birth, it can accumulate fluid and later can develop into a cyst on the walls of the vagina.
The Bartholin’s gland is located near the opening of the vagina on the vaginal lips, or labia. If a flap of skin grows over this gland, fluid can back up into the gland and form a cyst. The cyst is usually painless. If this cyst becomes infected, it can cause an abscess. An abscess is a collection of pus.
Benign tumors in the vagina are also usually made up of cysts.
There are typically no symptoms associated with vaginal cysts. You may notice a small lump protruding from the wall of the vagina or have pain or discomfort during sex or while inserting a tampon. Call your doctor if you notice a lump inside the vagina or if you develop bulging from the vagina.
During a routine pelvic exam, your gynecologist may feel the mass on the vaginal wall. They may also review your medical history and ask what symptoms you may be having. Your doctor may also wish to perform additional tests to rule out certain conditions. These include:
- a biopsy of a tissue sample from the cyst to rule out the possibility of vaginal cancer
- tests on the secretions from the vagina or cervix to determine if a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is present
- an X-ray if the cyst is located under the bladder or in the urethra
Vaginal cysts should be monitored for growth during routine exams. If the cyst grows larger or causes severe symptoms, surgery to remove the cyst may be performed. If the cyst causes an infection or abscess, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Complications due to vaginal cysts are rare. However, cysts may grow over time, which can lead to increased pain and discomfort and can also increase the risk of infection. Surgery to remove a cyst may carry a risk of infection or other complications at the excision site.
The outlook is generally very good. Cysts are usually benign and often remain small. Cysts that are surgically removed usually will not occur again.
You asked, we answered
- If there are no obvious symptoms of vaginal cysts, how can you tell when you have them? What are the best ways to prevent them from occurring?
Cysts appear either from a trauma event, like childbirth, or clogging of glands, traditionally from infections. Pain is usually the most common complaint of women who have a vaginal cyst. Pain from cysts can be relieved with warm baths.
With intercourse, use appropriate methods to avoid transmission of infections (i.e., condoms). If a cyst is infected, your doctor may have to drain it. If a cyst is detected, it should be monitored by your doctor for changes in size or compression on any other organ.- Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI