Gynecology

Ask Sofia: What Are Vaginal Cysts?

Cysts are pockets of air, fluid or pus that can be located anywhere on the body – including the vagina – which form when a duct or gland is clogged. While they may be somewhat uncomfortable depending on the location, typically, these cysts are not harmful or painful.

The most common type are vaginal inclusion cysts, which form following injury to the vagina during childbirth or surgery. Bartholin cysts appear near the opening of the vagina on the labia; these cysts may be swollen and cause discomfort during sex or when you insert a tampon. Finally, Gartner duct cysts can develop on the vaginal walls during pregnancy, although they usually disappear after childbirth, and Müllerian cysts can form from the material left behind from a baby’s development in utero.

If you notice recurring cysts or bulges, let your doctor know what you are experiencing. A physical exam can help determine the particular type vaginal cyst; sometimes, a biopsy or minor surgery will be performed to remove or drain cysts in addition to regular monitoring to determine any changes in cyst frequency or size.

“Occasionally, our bodies develop lumps and cysts, which may look or feel a little strange, but they are generally benign,” said Dr. David Clay. “If you are concerned about any cysts you have developed or if you have any that are bothersome or not going away, however, we are happy to talk with you about any symptoms, concerns and treatment options.”

While vaginal cysts will typically go away on their own, if they lead to an infection or abscess, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other treatment. A warm bath several times a day can also help to relieve discomfort.

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