Noticed a lump on your vagina?
Not sure if it is something to worry about?
Before you start to panic, read on to find out more about the common causes of lumps and bumps around your genital area.
You can get bumps in the genital area that are harmless. These include Cysts, Folliculitis, Fordyce spots, Vestibular papillomatosis (VP), Skin tags and Varicosities.
They are the most common type of cyst to occur in the vulva, with 2 percent of women experiencing this kind of cyst at least once in their lifetime and they typically come on suddenly without warning, which can be alarming to women. The Bartholin’s gland is located at the bottom of the vaginal opening, and their job is to secrete mucus. If the gland become clogged, it will form a palpable lump that can grow as large as a golf ball.
It is usually treated with antibiotics and sitz baths but sometimes may require surgery.
These are benign harmless lumps that can occur anywhere on the genital area. They are usually superficial lumps and painless and that’s why they are usually found incidentally.
Folliculitis, or blocked hair follicles, is probably the most common cause of “bumps” seen in women genitalia, and they can be the result of something as simple as shaving. The infected bumps are often red, irritated, and tender. They may require an antibiotic cream, and if they are more severe, oral antibiotic .
Fordyce spots are yellow-white, red, or skin-coloured oil glands. These painless, harmless bumps can appear on the vulva. They can also appear on your face, on the cheek and lips. Although it’s unknown why Fordyce spots appear, these bumps are natural and non-infectious, and they don’t cause any negative health effects.
Vestibular papillomatosis (VP) of the vulva is a benign, painless slow growing bump. It is commonly mistaken as genital warts. However, VP is not link to the HPV infection and is not sexually transmitted. The cause of VP is unknown. In majority of cases, no treatment is necessary.
Skin tags are soft, painless flaps of skin.
Continuous friction caused by skin-to-skin or skin-to-clothing contact can result in skin tags. Skin tags don’t pose a threat to your health and usually don’t require medical treatment.
These are swollen veins – like varicose veins. They can often be found during pregnancy, as the weight of the uterus during pregnancy reduces blood flow, so the veins dilate. They can also occur in women who stand for long periods of time.
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS (STIs/ STDs)
Certain STIs/ STDs can cause vaginal lumps and bumps, including:
- Genital herpes
- Genital Warts
- Molluscum contagiosum
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease.
Symptoms may include tender and painful open sores, which often appear in clusters. Genital symptoms typically are painful, open ulcerations that eventually scab over, and heal without scars. After the first outbreak, recurrent outbreaks are usually shorter and less painful, decreasing in frequency over time. Treatment includes antiviral and pain medications.
Syphilis is a common sexually transmitted disease. It is passed through direct contact with a syphilis sore, rash, or mucous membrane during oral, vaginal, or anal sex. The main symptom of the first stage of syphilis is a highly contagious, firm, round, painless sore called a chancre, which is sometimes open and wet. Syphilis is treated with Antibiotics.
Genital warts are caused by types 6 and 11 of the human papilloma virus (HPV), for which there’s now a vaccine in women. They generally spread via sexual contact, are contagious, and are the most common STD in the world. They can appear on either the vagina or the vulva, plus other areas around the genitals or upper thighs.
It can be treated with topical wart agents, electrocautery, cryosurgery and laser treatments.
Molluscum on the genital area is a form of sexually transmitted infection (STI) as well. It is usually painless and usually appears as multiple small pearl- like bumps with a crater in the middle. They can usually disappear on their own if left untreated.
As with any lumps or bumps, the thing we feared most is whether it could be cancer. Vaginal cancer is very rare. Vulva cancer is not as rare but still not common and typically occur in older women. Besides noticing a lump, you may get other symptoms such as itching, bleeding, noticing an irregular border or change in the skin appearance and texture.
Skin cancer is rare in in the genital area, but not impossible. If you find a black spot that continues to enlarge, it could be Melanoma. This type of skin cancer can be deadly if you don’t get it treated. It can be completely flat and can develop in non-sun-exposed skin.
When to see a doctor
Anyone that notices any changes in the vaginal area, such as lumps or bumps, should see a doctor.
It is especially important to see a doctor for lumps if they:
- are bleeding
- cause an unusual or foul-smelling discharge
- are painful
The only way to know if it is harmless or something that needs further treatment is to see a doctor who would be able to confirm the diagnosis and if it is something harmless, would be able to put your mind at ease.
Get that lump or bump checked now.
Next read: Causes of Vaginal Itching and Treatment