A lump on the vaginal wall can be a result of multiple conditions. One of the most common causes of a vaginal lump is the development of a cyst. The types of vaginal cyst frequently encountered in clinical practice include:
- Inclusion cysts: They are the most common cause of lumps in the vaginal wall. These cysts are usually the result of trauma to the vaginal wall. They are often seen after episiotomy, a minor surgical procedure wherein a cut is given on the vaginal wall to enlarge the passage for childbirth. Inclusion cysts are generally small in size and are most frequently seen in the distal and posterior end of the vaginal wall.
- Bartholin's gland cysts: Bartholin glands are tiny glands situated on the labia on both sides. They produce a fluid which keeps the vaginal wall lubricated. There are times when the openings of these glands become blocked. As a result, the fluid is trapped inside the glands, resulting in the formation of Bartholin's gland cysts.
- Gartner's duct cysts: Gartner's ducts are seen in the embryonic stage of life and tend to disappear soon after birth. However, in some females the embryonic remnants of Gartner's duct may remain and form vaginal cysts.
- Mullerian cysts: Mullerian ducts are again a part of the body in its embryonic stage and are responsible for the development of the female reproductive system. When these ducts fail to disappear after birth, they may form vaginal cysts. Mullerian cysts often contain mucus.
Most of these cysts do not produce any symptoms except a small lump on the vaginal wall. However, when the cysts are big in size, like some Bartholin's gland cysts are, they may produce discomfort while walking or engaging in sexual intercourse. Vaginal cysts are prone to infections because of the innumerable bacteria present in the vagina. They may also get infected during sexual intercourse with a person carrying a sexually transmitted disease. In the case of infection, the cysts get filled with pus and may lead to symptoms like pain and fever.
A painless vaginal cyst does not require any treatment. However, if it is big enough to cause discomfort, it can be removed surgically. Surgical removal of vaginal cysts is also recommended if the cyst is recurrent. In case a vaginal cyst becomes infected, a course of antibiotics is usually sufficient to deal with the problem.
Apart from vaginal cysts, there are two sexually transmitted diseases which can result in a lump in the vaginal wall. These two conditions are:
- Genital warts: These lumps are caused by a human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. They are generally multiple and painless, and can grow on the labia, cervix or inside the vagina. The warts are usually small in size but may grow up to a few inches. Though most of them don't cause discomfort, certain warts may produce a burning sensation and itchiness.
- Genital herpes: Vaginal lumps produced by a herpes infection are very painful and cause extreme discomfort. They begin as small blisters which may open later to form ulcers.
Both genital warts and herpes need to be treated as they can spread from person to person on sexual contact.
Another cause of lump on the vaginal wall is vulvar cancer. This type of cancer is rare and constitutes only 4% of all gynecological cancers in American women. However, any woman above the age of forty who has a vaginal lump that bleeds after intercourse or leads to persistent burning and itchiness in the area should be examined by a gynecologist to rule out the possibility of vulvar cancer.
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