What is a Vaginal Cyst?
The vagina is a muscular and tubular part of the female genital tract. Vaginal cysts grow under the lining of the vagina and their size may vary from a lump to the size of an orange. There are some factors that cause the growth of these cysts. Mostly these cysts are benign; however, they can be responsible for pain, discomfort, increasing the risk of infection and itching.
Types of Vaginal Cysts
- Bartholin’s cyst: The Bartholin’s glands are present at the opening of the vagina on either side of the vaginal opening. The vaginal lips are called labia. The glands are responsible for the production of fluid that lubricates the labia. This type of cyst grows on the Bartholin’s gland. Although, the cyst is usually painless, it is capable of causing an abscess.
- Inclusion cyst: An injury to the vaginal wall may cause the development of inclusion cysts. It occurs due to traumatic experiences such as childbirth or after surgery. The cyst itself may also lead to an injury to the vaginal wall.
- Gartner’s duct cyst: During pregnancy women develop Gartner’s duct that generally disappears after childbirth. However, in some cases, the duct remains even after the childbirth. In such a situation, the remaining part of the duct can collect fluids and develop into a cyst on the vaginal wall at a later point in time.
- Mullerian cyst: These cysts occur as a result of structures that remain behind after a baby has developed in the womb. They contain mucous and can grow anywhere on the vaginal wall.
Vaginal Cysts Causes
- Trauma: Any injury to the vaginal wall due to surgery or other factors leaves room for infection and development of an abscess. The collection of any fluid or other material at the site of these injuries has the potential to develop into a vaginal cyst.
- Pregnancy: The Gartner’s duct cyst and the Mullerian cyst are both examples of growths in the vagina that have a direct relation to pregnancy. In both these cases, the cysts are a result of material that develops during pregnancy but continues to remain in the body instead of disappearing after childbirth. Moreover, childbirth itself is an arduous process that may require surgery causing trauma. Thus, pregnancy can also lead to the appearance of vaginal cysts.
- STDs: There are many infections that can travel from one person to another, through sexually transmitted diseases. Illnesses like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can produce bacteria that form abscess which later results in the formation of vaginal cysts.
- Bacteria in the digestive tract: Bacteria such as E-coli that are usually present in the digestive tract can also cause vaginal cysts. The bacteria form an abscess, if fluids fill these spaces, it could form cysts.
Vaginal Cysts Symptoms
- Small lumps protruding from the walls of the vagina
- Pain while inserting a tampon
- Discomfort while walking
- Cyst may remain the same size or grow
- The cyst may contain pus which makes it painful
- Problems while exercising
- Experience of pressure in the pelvic area
- Trouble while urinating or defecating
Vaginal Cysts Diagnosis
- Physical examination to check what type the cyst may be
- X-rays in case the cyst is near the bladder or the urethra
- Pelvic exam
- Biopsy to rule out vaginal cancer
- Tests on secretions from the vagina or cervix to check for sexually transmitted infections
Prevention of Vaginal Cysts
There is not much one can do to avoid vaginal cysts. However, the following steps can help to reduce the chances of developing the cysts:
- Have a balanced diet
- Maintain good personal hygiene
- Sleep for adequate number of hours to allow the body to rest
- Exercise regularly to avoid chances of hypothyroidism and miscarriages
- Prevent contracting sexually transmitted diseases
Vaginal Cysts Complications
- Increase pain and discomfort with an increase in size of the cyst
- Surgery for the removal of the cyst could cause an abscess or an infection
- Complications may develop at the site of the excision
Vaginal Cysts Treatment
- Antibiotics: The doctor usually prescribes antibiotics in cases where there is an infection in the vaginal cyst. The antibiotics help to fight the germs that are causing the disease inside the body. Once they start fighting the germs from within, the body can cope with the infection which helps in the speedy recovery of the individual. However, antibiotics are not taken if the doctor suggests draining the contents of the cyst.
- Marsupialization: Some cysts tend to reoccur from time to time. Creating a path for drainage every time the cysts appear may lead to further complications. To avoid these botherations, doctors may create a permanent opening by stitching either side of the drainage incision. Sometimes, doctors may insert a rubber tube to facilitate drainage even after a few days of the procedure to prevent the cysts from reoccurring.
- Sitz Bath: The method requires women to soak in a tub of warm water. The water level should measure up to a few inches. Cysts may burst and drain as a result of soaking in warm water, thus reducing chances of further infection. A person should follow this treatment several times in a day, for 3 to 4 days.
- Gland removal: It is done in rare cases of Bartholin cysts. Often, the procedure starts with the doctor administering a dose of local anesthesia to the patient before the removal of the contents from the cyst. The doctor makes an incision at the sight of the cyst and inserts a rubber tube to help in the drainage of its contents allowing the cyst to remain open till it drains completely.
When to visit a doctor?
Consult a doctor immediately when symptoms of vaginal cysts are evident. Early detection could be the key to minimizing the risks and complications involved in such cases.