A vaginal cyst is an enclosed cavity on or beneath the vaginal lining, filled with air, pus, or other type of fluid. The cyst in vaginal area can occur for many reasons, including trauma during childbirth, the accumulation of fluid in vaginal glands, and the formation of non-cancerous (benign) vaginal tumors. Vaginal cysts usually stay small in size, which requires no treatment and don’t produce any symptoms apart from mild discomfort. It feels as though you have a knot near vagina. However, depending on the type of cyst you have, it may grow in size and become itchy and painful, developing into a vaginal abscess which indicates an infection.
Types and Causes of Cyst in Vaginal Area
The cyst in vaginal area is closed pocket of body tissue filled with fluid, air or other substance. Sometimes bacteria can infect the cyst, leading to fluid accumulation inside the cyst and swelling. There are various different types of vaginal cyst, including:
1. Inclusion Cyst
This is the most common type of vaginal cyst. It develops when the vagina has been damaged, for example after childbirth or surgery when the tissues haven’t healed properly.
2. Bartholin’s Cyst
Closely behind the vaginal labia are two pea-sized glands that secrete a mucus-based lubricant during sexual excitement. This fluid is released close to the vaginal opening through small tubes, called the Bartholin’s ducts. Blockages in this area can lead to a duct becoming filled with pus or fluid, stretching the duct and forming a cyst.
3. Gartner’s Duct Cyst
This cyst in vaginal area develops when the Gartner’s duct, typically only active during pregnancy, fails to close fully, allowing fluid collection.
This condition occurs when the growths of uterine tissue develop outside the womb and small cysts appear in the vagina.
Symptoms of Cyst in Vaginal Area
If you’ve developed a vaginal cyst, you may be able to feel a knot near vagina or a bump on the labia. However, these lumps are usually found by gynecologists performing routine examinations. You may find that the cyst is growing, or it may just stay the same size. Vaginal cysts are not usually painful, but some types, particularly Bartholin’s gland cysts, may give you pain and discomfort when you’re moving about, having sex or inserting a tampon.
The cysts may become infected through either the normal bacteria in the vagina or on the skin, or from a sexually transmitted infection. Infection of a cyst increases the pain and it can develop into a vaginal abscess – a fluid-filled sac that may be very painful.
- When to See a Doctor
If you are in serious pain, arrange to meet your doctor as soon as possible. You should also see your doctor if you have a sore cyst close to the vaginal opening that doesn’t get better after 2-3 days of self-treatment. If you find a new lump by the opening to the vagina and you’re over 40 years old, you need professional examination as it could indicate a serious issue, such as cancer.
Remedies for Cyst in Vaginal Area
The majority of vaginal cysts do not require any treatment. They will either resolve by themselves, or stay small and not cause any discomfort. However, any cyst in vaginal area that you have had for a while will need regular examination by a doctor, particularly in the first year after you’ve noticed it. This is to check if it is growing in size or becoming infected. Here are some ways to manage vaginal cysts:
1. Good Hygiene
The majority of cysts resolve without any treatment within two to three weeks. However, you need to maintain good personal hygiene during this time to prevent the cyst from becoming infected. Ensure the genital area is kept clean and dry. Always practice safe and protected sex.
2. Sitz Bath
A sitz bath is a shallow bath of about 4 inches (10 cm) of warm water in which you can bathe your intimate area. It can ease the discomfort you’re feeling and encourage healing. Do this a few times a day for 3-4 days.
If the cyst has become infected, you’ll need to get your doctor to prescribe oral antibiotics to clear up the infection. However, the antibiotics only stop the infection and may not be able to get rid of the cyst itself.
The fluid can be drained from the cyst by your doctor. One way is to catheterize the cyst, allowing the fluid to drain through the tube over 4-6 weeks. Alternatively, your doctor may make an incision into the cyst, letting it completely empty out before sewing it up. This creates a tissue pouch where the cyst once was.
In certain cases, doctors may completely remove the cyst by surgery. This is only performed on unbearably painful, uncomfortable, or recurrent cysts. However, it is more common in the over-40s, as cysts at this age could indicate a cancerous tumor.
For uncomfortable or persistent cysts, your doctor may recommend the marsupialization procedure. It involves making an incision to drain the cyst, then stitching either side to make a permanent gap under ¼ inch (6 mm) long. The surgeon may place a catheter in the opening to allow for better drainage and prevent the cyst from recurring.