What is vaginal cyst, its causes and treatment?

We all are well aware with the fact that the human body is not flawlessly smooth or perfect. It is very much capable of developing a number of bumps or lumps on any part of the body and it is actually quite a natural phenomenon. Out of all the unwanted growths that occur in our body, cysts are just one of them. A cyst is a sac like lump which are filled with either air or fluids in most cases. These cysts are usually not harmful or painful in any way.

It is an estimate that every 1 in 200 women suffer from vaginal cysts once in her lifetime. With the advanced medical technology and healthcare services, fortunately we have a cure for different types of vaginal cysts that are discovered and some awareness is also being spread about the same. 

The sizes of the cysts generally vary from being so small that they are not visible to the naked eyes to the size of an actual orange. These are also not location specific. They can be present on any part of the body including the vagina. They might wither be caused due to trauma or injury or ducts blockages. 

Let us understand everything about vaginal cysts.

To begin with, let us take a look at the different types of vaginal cysts:

  • Inclusion cysts are the most common of all types of vaginal cysts. Very small in size, these cysts occur at the back of the vaginal wall and are usually not painful. 
  • Bartholin’s gland cysts: This cyst is a non-cancerous cyst that is developed because of a blockage in the Bartholin’s glands. 
  • Bartholin glands are present between the vagina and the vulva and are not meant to be visible to the naked eye. The function of these glands is to produce fluids that help reduce friction during sex. The Bartholin cyst are rigid, firm masses that are not always painful. However, once these cysts are infected by either bacteria or yeast, they are likely to be painful. 
  • Gartner’s duct cysts happen when the developing embryo ducts do not go away after the baby is born (as it should). These ducts that remain can potentially lead to Gartner’s duct cysts in the later stages of life. 
  • Mullerian cysts often contain mucus within them and are also formed from the pars and structures left behind after the baby develops. They have the capacity to grow anywhere on the vaginal walls. 

So what are the different causes of vaginal cysts? Let us try to have a deeper understanding to that we stay aware to the best of our abilities.

Such cysts are developed usually when a duct or a gland becomes clogged, thereby causing the fluid or any other material to get collected within. The cause of the cysts also depend on the type of cyst occurred.

Symptoms of vaginal cysts

You must visit your gynecologist at least once in a year to keep a track of your health. These vaginal cysts are normally without any symptoms. These cysts might make you feel slightly lumpy along your vaginal line or lips. A gynecologist is trained to identify and discover the cyst in your vagina. In some cases, the cysts tend to stay the same size throughout the life, while in other cases, it might get bigger.

An important point to be noted here that vaginal cysts need not be painful. In rare cases, cysts such as Bartholin cysts might cause a little discomfort while having sex, walking or inserting a tampon. 

Once the cysts start getting infected, then the pain starts. Once you think you have a cyst, it is important you visit your gynecologist to get it checked at once. Seeking medical help is important not only in cases where the cyst is painful, but only when it is not painful, you need to rule out all chances of it being cancerous. 

Diagnosis of vaginal cysts

Cysts are usually diagnosed during the routine pelvic exam by your OB-GYN. A mass on the vaginal wall is felt. The doctor then might ask your medical history and also if you are facing any symptoms or troubles. 

Some tests that your doctor ask you to get conducted to be sure are: 

  • A biopsy to rule out all chances of vaginal cancer
  • Tests on secretions of vagina or cervix to check the presence of any STIs
  • CT scan, MRI or an ultrasound to get the detailed visuals of the cysts

Have a list of questions ready when you visit your doctor regarding vaginal cysts. Make a note of all the symptoms that you have been experiencing so that the doctor is able to treat you in an effective way. 

Treatment of vaginal cysts

Your doctor will keep a check on the size of the cyst and make sure that it doesn’t grow. The type of cysts that do not grow need not be treated as they do not affect you adversely at all. 

Some lifestyle changes and home remedies are proven to offer relief to many women struggling with vaginal cysts. Warm water bath and soaking in warm water regularly is a common practice which solves discomfort and pain caused by cysts. 

An infected vaginal cyst, however is treated with the help of antibiotics. Or if the size of the cyst keeps increasing, a surgery might be suggested by your doctor. Such cysts do not return after being surgically removed if they are non-cancerous. 

The course of treatment for the vaginal cysts include:

  • Sitz Baths: Soaking yourself in a tub filled with few inches of warm water a couple of times during the day. This process will ensure that all the small sized infected cysts rupture and get drained on their own. You should ideally be repeating the procedure for 3-4 days. Once you have completed your series of sitz bath, make sure you visit a doctor and get medical opinion. 
  • Surgical drainage: This is a medical method that involves surgery to drain the infected cysts. Local anesthesia or mild sedation is normally used during this treatment. A tiny incision is made on the cyst, letting it drain, and then putting a small catheter in the incision. This might stay for a period of six weeks to ensure complete drainage of the cyst.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed by some doctors if the cysts are infected by STIs. However, if the abscesses are drained well, there might not be any need for antibiotics. 
  • Marsupialization is a technique where the doctor puts stitches on either side of the drainage incision to ensure permanent opening of about 6 mm long. This is done if the cysts keep on reoccurring.

Removal of the bartholin’s gland is a very rare treatment procedure practiced by doctors in cases where all the other treatments do not work and the cysts keep on occurring again. This surgical removal of the gland is only performed by expert doctors under anesthesia and it carries with it risks of bleeding complications after the procedure is complete. 

Post-surgery care depends on your body and your health. Usually, patients who have undergone cysts removal surgery are safe to go home after 1-6 hours, depending on your situation. It is however best to follow your doctor’s advice and ensure that you face no problems post your surgery. 






Image Source: Google Photos

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