A Skene’s gland cyst can happen to any person assigned female at birth and is even something a baby can be born with. These cysts may not cause symptoms, but if they do, they can be treated. They are located near your urethral opening and can interfere with urination.
A Skene’s gland cyst is a cyst that's located near the urethral opening in a person assigned female at birth (AFAB). Your urethra is the tube that moves urine from your bladder to outside your body. It's a part of your urinary system.
Cysts, or sacs of tissue, are generally filled with fluid. Skene’s gland cysts are rare. They may or may not cause symptoms, but can sometimes be filled with pus.
The Skene’s glands are located on either side of the urethra in people AFAB. Researchers think that these glands may secrete fluid that helps with urination and cleanliness. They may also have a function for sexual intercourse, possibly providing the fluid for female ejaculation.
The Skene’s glands are also called Skene’s ducts, paraurethral glands or periurethral glands. You also might hear the cysts called by these names (paraurethral cysts, Skene’s duct cysts, periurethral cysts).
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Skene’s gland cysts can occur in adults assigned female at birth (AFAB). The cysts are usually small and don’t cause symptoms, but they can get large enough to be bothersome during sexual intercourse or cause trouble urinating. Also, if they get infected, they can be painful.
Babies can be born with Skene’s gland cysts as a congenital condition (a condition you’re born with). Some studies estimate the incidence of these cysts at 1 in 2,000 newborns to 1 in 7,000 newborns.
Symptoms of a Skene’s gland cyst may include:
No one knows what causes a Skene’s gland cyst at birth. As an adult, you can get a Skene’s gland cyst if the gland’s duct is blocked. Infection and inflammation can cause blockages in the duct.
In most cases, your healthcare provider can diagnose a Skene’s gland cyst with a physical examination. If your provider is concerned that the cyst might be a urethral diverticulum (a “pocket” or outpouching that forms next to your urethra), they might order imaging tests, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.
In some cases, particularly in babies, your provider might decide to wait and see what happens. If the cyst isn’t causing problems and is left alone, it might resolve itself.
In adults, if the cyst is not causing symptoms it can be left alone.
If the cyst is causing painful symptoms, the preferred treatment is to remove (excise) the cyst in a surgery.
Your surgeon might aspirate the fluid from the cyst with a needle or simply drain it.
Some surgeons use a technique called marsupialization to treat cysts, including Skene’s gland cysts. The surgeon makes a cut in the cyst and then sutures each side down, leaving the cyst open permanently.
There’s no way that we currently know of to prevent a congenital Skene’s gland cyst from developing in a baby.
If you have a Skene’s gland cyst and you’re treated, your outlook is good. For one thing, a Skene’s gland cyst isn’t cancerous. For another, it rarely comes back after surgery.
If you’re having pain while urinating or having sex, or if you’re having trouble urinating, contact your healthcare provider. If you’re unable to urinate or are in extreme pain, go to an emergency room. You’ll need a physical exam to determine if you have a Skene’s gland cyst. If you see a lump under the opening of your baby’s urethra and their urine is coming out in a skewed way, contact your healthcare provider.
Urethral diverticulum (UD) and Skene’s gland cyst may cause similar symptoms. You might have pain with urination, pain with sex, urinary tract infections and a lump with either condition. However, the conditions are different. UD is a pocket that forms along your urethra that can hold urine. It’s not part of a gland.
A Skene’s gland cyst and a Bartholin gland cyst are both fluid-filled growths found in the female reproductive system. They might both cause pain with sex.
One difference between a Skene’s gland cyst and a Bartholin gland cyst (or Bartholin duct cyst) is where they are located. A Skene’s gland cyst is found near the urethra. The Bartholin glands are on either side of the vagina. You can feel a Bartholin gland cyst inside your vagina. It might even be big enough to make your labia on one side larger than the other.
Another difference between a Skene’s gland cyst and Bartholin gland cyst lies in their management. Your provider may want to take a biopsy of Bartholin cyst tissue (removal of tissue) to check for Bartholin gland cancer, a rare form of cancer. A Skene's gland cyst isn't cancerous.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you find that you are having pain while urinating or pain while having sex, contact your healthcare provider. It’s most often best to contact your provider early on when you’re worried about symptoms. If they examine you and find a movable lump near your urethral opening, they may diagnose you with a Skene’s gland cyst. Your prognosis, if you have this, is very good.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/30/2021.
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