Vaginal Cysts

A vaginal cyst is a fluid-filled lump located on or near the vagina. Vaginal cysts are usually caused by childbirth, injury to the vagina or blocked glands. Your healthcare provider can diagnose vaginal cysts during a physical exam and recommend treatment.


What is a vaginal cyst?

A cyst on the vagina is a lump or bump filled with air, mucus, pus or other materials. Cysts on the vagina can be undetectable — as small as a pea — or as large as an orange. There are different causes and types of vaginal cysts. Most vaginal cysts are not harmful, but some may become painful if they get infected.


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Where can you find vaginal cysts?

The vagina is part of the female reproductive system. If you have a vaginal cyst, you might feel it on the lips of the vagina (labia) or at the opening of the vagina. Vaginal cysts can also be found in the vagina — the canal that connects the cervix to the outside of the body.

What are the different kinds of vaginal cysts?

There are several different types of vaginal cysts:

  • Inclusion cysts: These are small cysts on the wall of the vagina. They often form during injury to the vagina, possibly during childbirth or after vaginal surgery. Tissue gets trapped under the surface of the vagina and causes a cyst. This is the most common type of vaginal cyst.
  • Bartholin gland cysts: This type of cyst is characterized by fluid or pus-filled bumps or abscesses that form at the opening of either side of the vagina. They are named after the Bartholin glands, which produce the fluid that lubricates the labia (lips of the vagina). A cyst forms when these glands get blocked. If the cyst becomes infected with bacteria, an abscess forms.
  • Sebaceous cysts: These are cysts that develop when oil-producing sebaceous glands of the vulva (external genitalia) become blocked. This will form a lump filled with a yellow-white, greasy material.
  • Gartner’s duct cysts: The Gartner’s duct is an organ present during a person's fetal development. They typically go away before birth. If they do not, these ducts can form cysts on the walls of the vagina later in a person's life.
  • Müllerian cysts: These are a type of cyst that forms from leftover material in the Mullerian ducts during fetal development. They can grow on the walls of the vagina later in life.

Cysts may appear as a result of endometriosis or benign tumors, but this is uncommon. Most cysts are not harmful unless they become infected.


Who gets vaginal cysts?

Vaginal cysts are most common in people of reproductive age. However, you can still develop cysts through menopause.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes a cyst on your vagina?

The cause of vaginal cysts can vary depending on the type of cyst. Some common causes of vaginal cysts can include:

  • Injury: An inclusion, Gartner’s duct, or Müllerian vaginal cyst that forms from rips or tears during childbirth or from an injury to the vaginal wall during surgery. These types of cysts occur without you knowing. You cannot prevent these cysts.
  • Gland or duct blockage: Bartholin’s gland and sebaceous cysts happen when a duct or gland becomes blocked or clogged, causing fluid, pus, oil, or other materials to collect and form a lump. These can become painful if infected. Using good hygiene may prevent infection of these types of cysts.
  • Infection: Bacteria from sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) like gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause a vaginal cyst to become infected. It is important to practice safe sex practices like wearing a condom.


What are the symptoms of vaginal cysts?

Sometimes, you might have a vaginal cyst without experiencing any symptoms. You may learn that you have a cyst during a routine pelvic exam with your healthcare provider. In other cases, cysts can cause discomfort or get infected.

Symptoms of vaginal cysts can include:

  • Small lumps protruding from your vagina.
  • Discomfort and pain during sex, walking, sitting, or when inserting a tampon or wiping after using the bathroom.
  • Infected cysts may cause fever and be extremely swollen and tender.

What do vaginal cysts look like?

These cysts will look like bumps under the skin around your vaginal area, almost like a large pimple. They can be as small as a pea or as large as an orange. Some may become red and swollen. Other cysts may look like they are filled with pus or fluid. Cysts inside of your vagina may be small and not seen at all.

Are vaginal cysts contagious?

Most vaginal cysts are not spread during skin-to-skin contact. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be the cause of your vaginal cyst. These are contagious.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a vaginal cyst diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider can diagnose vaginal cysts during a physical exam. They may look at or touch the cyst. Cysts may be monitored over time for changes in size. Your treatment approach will be based on the type and severity of cyst you have.

What tests are done on vaginal cysts?

Your healthcare provider may want to run tests to rule out cancer or diseases. Some tests include:

  • Taking a biopsy of the cyst to rule out cancer.
  • Removing fluid from your vagina to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Conducting an ultrasound or MRI to see the cyst in greater detail.

Management and Treatment

What are the treatment options for vaginal cysts?

Treatment for a vaginal cyst should be directed by your healthcare provider. Even if it’s a treatment option that you can do at home, it’s best to talk to your provider first. Do not try to drain or squeeze a cyst because this could cause infection. You may want to get rid of a vaginal cyst on your own, but your healthcare provider will decide the best treatment. Some treatments for vaginal cysts may include:

  • A sitz bath: Sit in a bathtub with a few inches of warm water several times a day. This can provide comfort and promote healing.
  • Antibiotics: If your cyst becomes infected, your provider may prescribe antibiotics.
  • Surgical draining: A small tube called a catheter will be inserted into the cyst to drain fluid. These are usually left in place for several weeks.
  • Marsupialization: The cyst is surgically opened and drained. Then, the surgeon will stitch the edges of the cyst wall to form a permanent open pocket or “pouch” for continuous drainage.

Can a vaginal cyst bleed?

There may be a little blood when a cyst drains or opens. Contact your healthcare provider if you experience prolonged or heavy bleeding.

Care at Cleveland Clinic


Can you prevent vaginal cysts?

There is no way to prevent vaginal cysts. Maintaining good hygiene habits will help prevent infection of a cyst. Using a condom during sex can also help prevent cysts caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Outlook / Prognosis

When should I call my doctor?

If you believe you have a vaginal cyst, don't try to diagnose yourself or drain the cyst yourself. Contact your healthcare provider if you:

  • Feel a lump inside or protruding from your vagina.
  • Believe the area is infected.
  • Have a fever.
  • Have pelvic pain.
  • Experience unusual vaginal discharge.

How long will a vaginal cyst last?

Some cysts improve over the course of several days or weeks. Your healthcare provider can determine if your cyst needs removed or if it will go away without medical treatment.

Living With

What is it like living with a vaginal cyst?

It can vary depending on how large the cyst is or where it’s located on the vagina. If it becomes infected, it can be painful and interfere with daily activities. Other vaginal cysts cause no problems and do not need surgically removed or drained.

A note from the Cleveland Clinic

Don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you feel a lump in your vagina. They will be able to diagnose and treat your cyst after a thorough exam of the area. Discuss any concerns you have or pain you’ve experienced so that a clear diagnosis can be made. Your healthcare provider will recommend the appropriate care you need.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 07/11/2022.

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