Cysts are generally sac-like lumps filled with air, fluid or other substances that can develop anywhere on the body, including sensitive parts like the vagina. A vaginal cyst can occur on or under the lining of the vagina. Vaginal cysts can develop due to multiple reasons like childbirth, trauma, injury, or buildup of fluid in the vagina.
Cysts are generally not harmful and do not exhibit any symptoms. However, in some cases, they may cause discomfort. There are several types of cysts that can be too small to see, while others may be large and may cause itching, pain, or increased risk of infection.
Usually, there are no noticeable symptoms of vaginal cysts as they are small and benign. However, you might feel a lump or mass near your vagina in some cases. There are specific symptoms that you need to keep track of, including:
Discomfort while walking, sitting or inserting tampon
Pain during sexual intercourse
A tender or painful lump near the vaginal opening
Difficulty with urination or defecation
Vaginal cysts usually occur when a duct or gland are clogged. This leads to the accumulation of liquid and other materials inside the vaginal tissues and glands, leading to cysts’ formation. The cause of cysts depends on their type. So, for example, if you had an episiotomy before childbirth to widen the opening of the vagina, chances are of developing inclusion cysts are high. Similarly, Bartholin’s gland cysts are caused when the Bartholin’s gland is blocked, which may be due to a flap of skin, leading to fluid collection.
Following are the types of Vaginal Cysts:
Gartner’s Duct Cysts: These can occur when the ducts in an embryo do not disappear after the baby is born. The leftover ducts can develop in vaginal cysts later in life.
Inclusion Cysts: These are the most common types of vaginal cysts that appear due to an injury to the wall of the vagina after surgery or childbirth.
Müllerian Cysts: These cysts appear from the structures left behind when a baby develops. They often contain mucus and can occur on the vaginal walls.
Bartholin’s Gland Cysts: A Bartholin cyst can appear on either side of the vaginal lips (labia) near the opening of the vagina. Bartholin’s glands are responsible for lubricating the labia. So, when there is an obstruction at the opening of the glands, the fluid back up and forms a cyst. In addition, there might be an infection within these cysts that can lead to Bartholin’s abscess in rare cases.
Vaginal cysts are usually discovered during a routine pelvic exam. The doctor then performs a physical exam to determine the vaginal cysts. A biopsy might be needed to rule out vaginal cancer in some cases. Your doctor may also recommend an ultrasound to get a clearer view of the cysts.
In most cases, the treatment of vaginal cysts is not necessary as they remain small and don’t cause any problem. However, if it remains for a prolonged period, makes you uncomfortable or becomes infectious, your doctor may recommend the following treatments:
Antibiotics treatment: Your doctor will recommend antibiotics to treat the vaginal cysts if they are infected or have a sexually transmitted infection.
Sitz baths: Soaking the cysts in warm water several times a day for 3 to 4 days helps relieve the discomfort and makes the cysts burst and drain on its own.
Surgical drainage: Your doctor may recommend surgical drainage when the vaginal cyst is large. In this procedure, local anesthesia is given, and an incision is made into the cyst to drain its content.
Marsupialization: This is an effective treatment for recurring cysts. The doctor sutures together each side of a drainage incision during the procedure to form a permanently open pocket. Your doctor could place a rubber tube to promote adequate drainage.
Removal of Bartholin’s Gland: In extremely rare cases, your doctor might remove the Bartholin glands to treat vaginal cysts.
The most likely risk from vaginal cysts is an infection that can turn into an abscess. It is a large collection of pus and fluid that can cause pain or swelling. However, it is best always to get it checked if there is any abnormal growth.
The long-term outlook is generally good. Vaginal cysts usually remain small and benign. If the cysts are removed surgically, they typically don’t occur again.