What are vaginal cysts?
Vaginal cysts are enclosed sacs or pockets of tissues filled with air, pus, fluid or any other material. It is located on or under the vaginal lining and are usually pea-sized but can increase to a size of an orange.
Types of Vaginal Cyst
- Vaginal inclusion cyst: Inclusion cyst is the most common type of vaginal cyst formed on the lower back of the vaginal wall. They remain noticeable and occur due to injury during childbirth or after surgery or because of damage to the wall of the vagina.
- Bartholin’s cyst: Bartholin’s cysts are filled with fluids that are located near the vaginal opening on the vaginal lips or labia. It is usually painless, but if infected, it can cause an abscess.
- Gartner’s duct cyst: After giving birth, the duct in a developing embryo disappears, but if it does not withdraw, it accumulates fluid and develops into a cyst on the walls of the vagina.
- Mullerian cyst: These cysts develop from structures left behind after the baby develops. The often contain mucus and grow anywhere on the vaginal walls.
The vaginal cyst occurs due injury during childbirth, the build-up of fluid or by benign tumors in the vagina. It may also develop due to the clogging of duct or collection of fluid or another material inside. Some other possible reasons include:
- Gartner’s cyst develop due to presence of duct even after the childbirth
- Bartholin’s cyst develop due to accumulation of pus or fluid that forms a lump later on
- Endometriosis pieces appear as small cysts on the vagina
- Inclusion vaginal cyst is caused due to injury or trauma to the vaginal walls
- Bartholin’s gland cyst is caused due to blockage of Bartholin gland by a flap of skin or fluid-filled growth
- Cystoceles and rectoceles look like vaginal cyst but are not actually a cyst because they appear on the vaginal wall from the underlying bladder or rectum
The vaginal cyst usually does not show any signs. However, a small lump can be felt near the vagina. But if the cyst increases in size, it can cause discomfort while walking, sitting, sexual intercourse or inserting a tampon. If the cyst gets infected, it can show symptoms of fever.
The vaginal cyst might be noticed while pelvic examination and then gynecologist might refer further tests to confirm if there is a cyst. These tests include:
- A biopsy of a sample tissue from the cyst to check the possibility of vaginal cancer
- An x-ray to monitor the location of the cyst
- Secretion from the vaginal or cervix test to determine the presence of sexually transmitted infection (STI)
In most cases the treatment of vaginal cyst is unnecessary, but if the cyst is creating discomfort then the following options may be used:
- Sitz Bath: Involves taking a bath 3-4 times a day by soaking themselves in a tub filled with few inches of warm water allowing the cyst to burst out.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed when the cyst is infected or in case of sexual transmission. If it is an abscess and is drained, then no antibiotics are required.
- Gland removal: In case of Bartholin cyst, the gland should be removed, but this is also a rare case.
- Marsupialization: this treatment is for recurring cysts; here doctor puts stitches on each side of the drainage incision for a permanent opening. To drain the pus for a few days, a rubber tube may be inserted which will help prevent re-growth of the cyst.
Complications caused by vaginal cyst are rare, but if the cyst gets infected, it can become an abscess. It has symptoms like pain, redness and swelling that can be healed by draining the pus. A large number of bacteria from sexually transmitted disease and the skin, such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be a cause of cyst development. Bartholin’s abscess can be due to bacteria typically found in the gut, e.g. E coli.
It is difficult to assure the prevention of vaginal cyst, however further damage or growth can be restricted. A woman should take care of the following:
- Keep the vaginal are clean
- Practicing safe sex
- Follow proper diet and regular exercise
Usually, the outcome of the vaginal cyst is perfect. Most of the time women do not understand if they have the possibility of developing a cyst on the vagina and are spotted during any pelvic examination. The cyst can be removed through the operation and will prevent recurrence.