A cyst is fluid-filled swelling that results when a gland or its draining duct gets blocked. Cysts in the vaginal area can result from blockage of the Bartholin glands. These glands are tiny organs, one on each of the vaginal lips or labia, near the opening of the vagina. These glands are normally too tiny to be seen or felt. Their role is to make a small amount of fluid that helps lubricate the labia. The Bartholin glands or their ducts can get blocked, resulting in the formation of a round swelling or cyst. The vaginal cyst is generally small but can enlarge up to a size bigger than a golf ball. The cyst can result when a small flap of skin grows over the opening of the Bartholin gland. There can also be a presence of infection in the cyst. Infected cysts can also occur through sexual transmission. Apart from a Bartholin cyst, there can be other types of cysts in the vaginal area such as:
- Vaginal inclusion cysts: These vaginal cysts are quite common and may result from an injury to the vaginal walls during childbirth or surgery.
- Gartner duct cysts: These cysts can form on the sidewalls of the vagina. They result from an embryonic remnant (a structure that is normally present while the baby is in the womb and disappears after birth) called the Gartner duct.
- Endometriosis: It refers to the presence of the tissue in the lining of the uterus at other sites. Endometriosis can also result in the formation of a vaginal cyst.
- Tumors: Although rare, non-cancerous tumors in the vagina can present as a cyst.
What are the symptoms of a vaginal cyst?
The symptoms of a vaginal cyst may vary depending on several factors such as the size of the cyst and the presence of infection. Most vaginal cysts are small and go unnoticed. The symptoms may include:
Do vaginal cysts go away?
If the vaginal cyst is due to blockage of the Bartholin gland or its duct, they will generally resolve in a few days to weeks. You can facilitate the healing process by
- Applying warm compresses on the area.
- Taking rest.
- Avoiding sexual intercourse.
- Taking over the counter (OTC) pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If the cyst is big or there is the presence of fever or severe pain, you can visit a doctor. If the cyst is filled with pus (abscess), the doctor will drain it in their office or outpatient department of a hospital. To drain a cyst or abscess, the doctor will clean it with an antiseptic solution and apply a numbing medicine. They will then drain the cyst or abscess with the help of a scalpel. This will result in immediate relief from the pain. They may place a small drainage tube for the removal of all the secretions from the cyst. The doctor will then apply dressing and allow you to go home. They may prescribe antibiotics to get rid of the infection. In case of recurrent vaginal cysts, a surgical procedure called marsupialization may be done. In this procedure, the cyst is opened, and a pouch is created by stitching the sides of the cyst. It prevents the secretions from collecting.
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