Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
While taking a bath this morning, I found a bump beside my vagina and I was wondering what it may be?
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on August 11, 2011
You’re smart to observe changes in your body. No one knows your body better than you do, or notices changes to it like you can. Depending on the size and color of the bump, and its sensitivity to touch, there are several possibilities of what it might be...to find out for sure, I encourage you to visit your doctor, gynecologist or local health clinic.
In the meantime I can offer you some thoughts on some of the most likely possibilities...
A bump near your vagina can indicate a sexually transmitted disease. To be on the safe side, especially if you’re sexually active, STD testing is a smart choice – especially for herpes simplex virus (HSV-2) and syphilis. Genital warts (caused by some types of human papillomavirus or HPV) are also a possibility...a doctor will need to diagnose genital warts by a visual exam.
And if you’re concerned about one STD, your doctor can help you determine other STDs for which you may be at risk and help you with STD testing. (You can also get tested with an online clinic.) Knowing your status can give you knowledge, information and peace of mind. Our Expert Guide to STD Basics provides more background on STD signs and symptoms.
A bump near your vagina doesn’t always mean you have an STD – it could indicate infected or ingrown hairs. Some people develop ingrown hairs after shaving or waxing. When the hair grows again, it grows under the skin instead of out...this can cause ingrown hairs that might lead to a condition called folliculitis, which results in small, red and painful bumps. The infection may spread and a pustule (a white or red bump containing cloudy material) can develop. It’s best to get this checked out by a doctor who can help you with treatment – typically treatment for pustules includes applying a warm compress three times a day or, possibly, antibiotics.
A Bartholin's cyst can also cause a bump near the vagina. The Bartholin glands, located on either side of the entrance to the vagina, secrete fluid. Sometimes the glands can become blocked and infected, causing a cyst to develop. These cysts can vary in size from one to three centimeters. If the cyst is large and painful, or – if you are over 40 – your doctor may opt to drain the cyst and perform a biopsy procedure to rule out cancer.
These are just three likely possibilities. For a definitive diagnosis of any long lasting bump or growth, please see your doctor to avert more serious symptoms later on. Thank you for question, and I wish you the best of health.
Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.