You're casually washing yourself or perhaps attending to needs in the Ladies' Room, and you notice something out of the ordinary. You feel a bump in your genital area, and immediately, you worry about infection, sexually transmitted diseases, or any number of scary outcomes. In fact, lumps and bumps on or around your vagina are quite commonplace and usually nothing to worry about.
To understand bumps on the vagina, it is important to understand the anatomy. Your vagina is actually a long, hollow tube that doesn't properly start until well inside the body. Most lumps and bumps are discovered on the outside of the body, properly called the vulva. This is the inner lips of the genitals, including the clitoris and all the smooth skin within the labia majora. The labia majora are the lips commonly covered with pubic hair. You can have lumps and bumps to this part of the genitalia, but the most common site of concerning bumps is on the vulva.
You can have bumps and lumps on the inner part of the genitalia that are large and small, painful and painless. Sometimes, you will note discharge from the bump, and this is an important symptom to make note of when you see your doctor. A simple bath in warm water can occasionally relieve the pain of some bumps, but you should have any persistent bump fully examined by a doctor to rule out any serious conditions.
One of the most common benign causes of lumps on the vaginal area is cysts. These are blocked glands that often swell up and can become painful. Sometimes, they can look like pimples, and you may be tempted to squeeze them to relieve the pain and pressure. This is generally not a good idea because you open up the area to infection from the rest of the vulva. It is better to allow these cysts to open on their own and drain naturally. For large and very painful cysts, it may be necessary to see a doctor for drainage and an antibiotic.
Two types of cysts are common in the female genital region. Skene's duct cysts often occur near the urethra, or the area where urine comes out. This area is usually between the clitoris and the vaginal opening. The other type of cyst is Bartholin cysts. These usually occur low on the labia majora and can cause a great deal of pain.
Blocked hair follicles are common in the genital region and can occur on the inside of the vulva. This is often called an ingrown hair, and they will need draining if they are big and painful. Otherwise, they tend to resolve on their own.
Similarly, you can have a clogged sweat gland in the genital region. One type of infection of a clogged gland is called Hidradenitis suppurativa, and this can easily lead to an infection and become painful. Antibiotics are often needed to treat this sort of clog. You can also have painless Fox Fordyce, and this type usually required an anti-inflammatory cream and other treatment modalities.
A painless infection called Molluscum contagiosum can cause small, pearly bumps that have an indentation in the center. Most of the time, these bumps resolve on their own, and do not require medical attention. Finally, skin tags are common anywhere on the body, and they can appear around the vaginal area. It is recommended that you get these tags assessed for skin cancer or some other form of infection to be safe.
Some bumps are more serious than other bumps and definitely require treatment by a doctor. For instance, genital herpes can start out as a small opening that looks like a bug bite. It can turn into an itchy, painful mass that requires special medications to treat. It can turn into a blister, and eventually that blister opens into an ulcer.
Bumps that look like cauliflower are often a sign of genital warts. These warts are caused by a type of the human papilloma virus, and they are transmitted through sexual contact. They feel rough when you touch them, and they often spread. Cold treatment therapy is the common treatment for this type of bump.
You should probably see your doctor for any bump on the vagina that does not resolve itself within a few days. Even for benign, non-sexually transmitted disease related bumps can evolve into something that requires an antibiotic or further medical attention. If sitting in a bath of warm water doesn't make the bump go away, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.