Nabothian cysts are tiny cysts or benign bumps that are formed on the surface of the cervix. The cervix connects the vagina to the uterus, and it’s also called the cervical canal. Nabothian cysts are filled with clear or light yellow or amber mucus, which is produced by the cervical glands. Doctors also refer to nabothian cysts as cervical cysts, mucinous retention cysts, or epithelial cysts. It is commonly seen in women during reproductive age, they may have more than one nabothian cysts, which does not cause any threat to health and are not a sign of cervical cancer.
Nabothian cysts form when the mucus-producing glands in the cervix are layered with skin cells and become blocked, where the skin cells lump the glands which result in the clogging of mucus. This causes a cyst to form on the cervix that looks like a tiny, white bump.
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Childbirth and physical trauma to the cervix can cause Nabothian cysts in some women. During labour, excess skin cells can grow on the mucus gland and block mucus, resulting in cyst formation. While physical trauma around the cervix can result in excessive tissue formation on top of mucus glands during the healing process and block mucus, which leads to cysts formation. Nabothian cysts caused by physical trauma are more commonly seen during recovery from chronic cervicitis, where the cervix tissue is inflamed.
Your chance of developing Nabothian cysts increases if you’re pregnant or of childbearing age- which lasts from puberty until the onset of menopause. And in a few cases, can develop as late as your 40s or 50s.
Adenoma malignum is a disorder that may also elevate your risk of developing cysts. This condition is a kind of neoplasia that affects mucus production in the cervix and these cysts are often similar to nabothian cysts. Seek advice from your gynaecologist and get screened for adenoma malignum if you’re worried that your nabothian cyst may be a result of this condition rather than other causes.
The size of the nabothian cysts ranges from a few millimeters to 4 centimeters in diameter. They are smooth and are white or yellow in colour. The healthcare provider may observe one or more cysts during a routine pelvic examination. Moreover, these cysts don’t cause any pain, discomfort, or other symptoms, so it’s likely that the doctor will find any cysts while examining the cervix for other issues.
Inform your gyneacologist if you have bleeding between your menstrual cycle, unusual discharge, or pelvic pain. As these symptoms may indicate an infection or other abnormalities that need further evaluation.
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Generally, nabothian cysts can be screened and diagnosed during a routine pelvic examination. It can also be observed on a pelvic scan, MRI, or CT scan. After noticing these white bumps on the cervix, your gynaecologist may break a cyst to confirm the diagnosis. At times the doctor may also use colposcopy to make a precise diagnosis, which involves magnifying the region to differentiate between nabothian cysts from other types of bumps. Further, the doctor may send cysts for biopsy if they suspect that you might have a type of neoplasia that affects mucus production and this condition is called malignum. It is a very rare condition and it is not a cause for concern.
Usually, nabothian cysts are benign and don’t need any treatment. In very rare cases, the cysts may become large, and change the shape and size of the cervix. And if it’s severe then it may make a routine cervical examination hard. In such cases, the doctor may suggest the removal of the cyst, so as to view the cervix.
Also, it’s vital for you to get a complete examination of the cervix during routine physician visits. As these evaluations can assure your reproductive health is in a good state and also help doctors identify any problems with the cervix at an initial stage.
If a large nabothian cyst is causing symptoms, then it needs to be surgically removed. The doctor may use one of these procedures to remove cysts:
Electrocautery: In this procedure, a small probe with an electric current is used to burn off the cyst.
Cryotherapy: In this liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the cyst off.
Nabothian cysts are full of mucus and can rupture. If a nabothian cyst bursts, then you may observe unusual discharge or odour from the vagina. If the discharge continues seek help from your doctor to identify the cause and get prompt medical care.