A cyst is a pocket or pouch of tissue that may contain air or a biological fluid. A Labia cyst is closed sac that can be located on either side of the vaginal opening. These cysts are generally painless and are often the result of physical trauma, such as laceration or surgery. However, cysts might be associated with underlying medical issues. The cyst is usually so small that it cannot be seen by the naked eye, but in some rare cases it may even grow to the size of an orange.
There are several different types of labia cysts:
- One of the most common types of labia cysts are Inclusion cysts, which are small and located on the lower back side of vaginal wall. These cysts are a type of gynaecological cyst, so they grow in the female reproductive tract. They can grow anywhere in the tract such as the vulva, cervix and vagina.
- Fluid-filled cysts that form on the Bartholins gland, a pair of glands near the vaginal opening that secrete fluid and lubricate the vaginal lips.
- Another common type of labia cysts are Mullerian cysts that form on structures that are left behind after a woman gives birth.
- Cysts that form in the Gartners duct - ducts that are formed during embryo development and do not disappear even after giving birth.
Causes of labia cysts
Labia cysts usually form when a gland or duct becomes clogged, causing biological fluids to build up. The exact causes, though, depend on the type of the cyst.
- Causes of inclusion cyst: The cause of these cysts can be trauma, such as a laceration or cut. One common cause is an incision made during a past surgery involving the vulva. An example of such a surgery is episiotomy, a procedure done to facilitate childbirth. Inclusion cysts can also recur in patients who have a history with these cysts.
- Causes of Bartholin's cyst: These cysts are formed due to a blockage of the opening to Bartholin's gland. The blockage can be due to a flap of skin that overtime causes the growth of a fluid-filled abscess. A number of bacteria, such as those that cause gonorrhoea and Chlamydia, can cause this abscess. E. coli bacteria that is found in the intestinal tract can also cause this abscess.
- Causes of Mullerian cysts: These cysts are the result of the structures in the reproductive tract that are left behind after a woman gives birth. The presence of these cysts is relatively rare compared to other types.
- Causes for Gartner's cyst: This type of cyst forms from complications associated with the Gartner's duct, which is a small gland that becomes active while a woman is pregnant. The gland becomes inactive once the child is born. However, problems may arise when it is active, which can lead to the formation of cysts.
Symptoms of labia cysts
Most labia cysts do not cause problems and can be left alone, but must be checked regularly by a gynaecologist. Depending on the location of the labia cyst, some women might feel uncomfortable while having sexual intercourse or while inserting a tampon. Labia cysts usually are not painful, but some larger cysts, like Bartholin's cysts, might cause discomfort for women during activities like walking, sex, or inserting a tampon. Pain is more likely to occur when there is an infection in the cyst, which can be caused by a number of different bacteria. When an infected cyst forms an abscess, or a pus-filled lump, it can be very painful and requires immediate medical attendtion.
Treatments for labia cysts
Labia cysts do not frequently prove to be harmful, other than a mild discomfort in some cases. However, in few cases they can grow into tumors, which must be checked regularly. In case a cyst becomes problematic, surgery is the only option. Surgery is considered a last resort and is sought only when the cyst starts to cause dabilitating symptoms or if cancer is suspected. This surgery rarely causes complications,though problems may arise depending on the exact location of the cyst.
If the cyst is small and does not seem to cause any problems, it requires no treatment beyond routine checkups. Some known treatments for different types of labia cysts are:
- For treating mild discomfort from the cyst, you should try sitting in a bath tub filled with a few inches of warm water. This should be done several times a day for 3-4 days.
- For an infected cyst, your doctor will prescribe appropriate antibiotics.
- For a large fluid-filled labia cyst, your doctor will most likely insert a small tube (called catheter) to drain it. The catheter will have to stay inside the vagina for about 4-6 weeks. Another alternative option is to have a small surgical procedure, in which an incision is made in the cyst to drain the fluid.