Vulvar and vaginal lumps
Bumps and lumps on your vulva and vagina can be normal, or they could be a sign of a condition that requires medical attention.
Helping you to understand
At Gynae Solution, we will use plain language to explain what you have, what the treatment options are and what your prognosis is in terms you can understand.
What are vulvar and vaginal lumps?
Sometimes, lumps and bumps develop on the vagina. These lumps and bumps can occur for a variety of reasons and can cause pain and discomfort.
They can appear on the internal part of the vagina or the external area, known as the vulva, which includes the labia.
Vaginal lumps and bumps are common, especially during your childbearing years or as you age. It is a good idea to see your doctor if you are unsure about changes to your body. You should also see your doctor if you have a new lump that doesn’t go away in a few weeks.
As well, see your doctor if you have pain or signs of infection, such as:
- Discharge from the lump that contains pus or blood
- Symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease
Listening to you
It's important to find a consultant who will listen to your concerns to help explain and answer any questions you might have.
What causes vulvar and vaginal lumps?
The following are the most common causes of vaginal lumps:
1. Vaginal cysts
Vaginal cysts are pocket or pouch-like projections on the vaginal wall. There are a variety of different types of vaginal cysts. Some cysts contain pus and others contain air or scar tissue.
The types of vaginal cyst include:
- Bartholin’s cysts: These are lumps on one or both sides of the vaginal opening.
- Endometriosis cysts: Lumps of tissue form small cysts in the vagina.
- Gartner’s duct cysts: These cysts typically only form during pregnancy.
- Vaginal inclusion cysts:These often result after trauma to the vaginal walls, such as after giving birth. Injury causes tissue to become trapped under the skin’s surface, resulting in a cyst.
Some cysts may be large and painful, but most vaginal cysts are small and have no symptoms.
2. Vaginal polyps
Vaginal polyps are outgrowths of skin that doctors may also refer to as skin tags.
They usually do not require treatment unless they are painful or cause significant bleeding.
3. Vaginal warts
Vaginal warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection. HPV is also a risk factor for cancer.
It is not usually possible to feel warts inside the vagina, but it is possible to notice growths just outside the vaginal opening. Vaginal warts typically feel like small, irregular growths. It may be possible to see the warts by holding a mirror under the vagina.
The sexually transmitted infection herpes can also cause genital blisters. Sometimes, herpes lesions may resemble an ingrown hair or a pimple. Other times, they may have a sore or blister-like appearance.
4. Vaginal cancer
Rarely, vaginal cancer can cause lumps on the vagina. These lumps can grow due to the excess development of cancerous cells in the lining of the vagina’s skin cells or the glandular cells located in the vagina.
Other symptoms of vaginal cancer include unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge. If cancer becomes advanced, symptoms may include constipation, pelvic pain, back pain, or leg swelling. However, these symptoms do not necessarily mean a person has cancer; they are much more likely to be caused by another condition, such as an infection.
How are vaginal lumps diagnosed?
To diagnose vaginal lumps or bumps, your doctor will likely examine the outside of the vagina as well as perform a physical examination.
Your doctor may also take a swab from the lump and send it to a laboratory to test for the presence of any harmful cells.
To help with diagnosis, your doctor may request some imaging tests to see how large the lump or lumps may be. Imaging tests may include transvaginal ultrasound imaging or abdominal imaging.
Vaginal lumps often don’t require treatment. If they do need medical care, treatment is determined by their cause.
Most vaginal bumps and lumps can be managed at home. Here are some things you can do to help relieve your symptoms:
- If you have cysts, take warm baths several times a day for a few days. That may help the cysts drain.
- Avoid wearing clothing that rubs and chafes your vulva.
- Wear panties made of natural material like cotton. Natural materials are breathable and can help keep your genitals cool and dry.
It is unlikely that lumps on your vagina are a cause for alarm. Most will go away on their own or can be treated or managed at home. If you have a sexually transmitted disease, it can usually be managed with treatment, but it’s important to begin treatment early to reduce your risk for complications.