A cyst is a closed pocket or pouch of tissue. It can be filled with air, fluid, pus, or other material. A vaginal cyst occurs on or under the lining of the vagina.
There are several types of vaginal cysts.
Most vaginal cysts usually do not cause symptoms. In some cases, a soft lump can be felt in the vaginal wall or protruding from the vagina. Cysts range in size from the size of a pea to that of an orange.
However, Bartholin cysts can become infected, swollen and painful.
Some women with vaginal cysts may have discomfort during sex or trouble inserting a tampon.
Women with cystoceles or rectoceles may feel a protruding bulge, pelvic pressure or have difficulty with urination or defecation.
Physical exam is essential to determine what type of cyst or mass you may have.
A mass or bulge of the vaginal wall may be seen during a pelvic exam. You may need a biopsy to rule out vaginal cancer, especially if the mass appears to be solid.
If the cyst is located under the bladder or urethra, x-rays may be needed to see if the cyst extends into these organs.
Routine exams to check the size of the cyst and look for any changes may be the only treatment needed.
Biopsies or minor surgeries to remove the cysts or drain them are typically simple to perform and resolve the issue.
Bartholin gland cysts often need to be drained. Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed to treat them as well.
Most of the time, the outcome is good. Cysts often remain small and do not need treatment. When surgically removed, the cysts most often do not return.
Bartholin cysts can sometimes recur and need ongoing treatment.
In most cases, there are no complications from the cysts themselves. A surgical removal carries a small risk for complication. The risk depends on where the cyst is located.
Call your health care provider if a lump is felt inside the vagina or is protruding from the vagina. It is important to contact your provider for an exam for any cyst or mass you notice.
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.