Nabothian Cysts: What Every Woman Should Know

Nabothian Cysts: What Every Woman Should Know

If your doctor’s told you that you have nabothian cysts on your cervix, your mind might be running wild right now.

First, let us ease your mind a little: more often than not, nabothian cysts are harmless, and they’re surprisingly common.

But what even are these tiny cervix bumps, and why do you get them in the first place?

Can you get rid of them for good?

Well, let’s ditch the mysteries, myths, and misconceptions surrounding nabothian cysts and uncover the truth about these harmless cervical residents.

In this article: 📝

  • What’s a nabothian cyst?
  • Do nabothian cysts have symptoms?
  • What causes nabothian cysts?
  • Does a nabothian cyst mean pregnancy?
  • Are nabothian cysts linked to infertility?
  • Can a nabothian cyst burst?
  • How long do nabothian cysts last?
  • Dealing with nabothian cysts
  • How to prevent nabothian cysts
  • Should I worry about nabothian cysts?

What’s a nabothian cyst?

Let’s start with the basics.

A nabothian cyst (AKA cervical cyst, mucinous retention cyst, or epithelial cyst), is a small fluid-filled bump that forms on the surface of the cervix, usually a few millimeters or centimeters long (but they can get bigger).

You can have one nabothian cyst or a few of them on your cervix.

Most people don’t know they have them until they have a pelvic exam!

But, while it’s rare, some people can feel some discomfort from them, like a feeling of pressure in your vaginal canal, or sometimes, pain before, during, or after sex.

Although generally harmless, these mucus-filled sacs can sometimes cause discomfort, but that’s rare — typically only in cases of “large” nabothian cysts.

Nabothian cysts pictures, showing a cervix without nabothian cysts and a cervix with nabothian cysts

Do nabothian cysts smell?

Now, you might be wondering, since they’re filled with mucus, do nabothian cysts have a distinct smell?

Thankfully, no, if they are intact.

These cysts are typically odorless, so there’s no need to worry about any unusual fragrances down there.

However, if these cysts burst, you might notice some bleeding and unusual discharge that has a smell to it.

Are nabothian cysts serious?

Generally, no, the vast majority of nabothian cysts are benign, harmless, and don’t pose a serious health risk.

It’s only really if they get unusually large that they can cause blockages elsewhere, like your bladder or even during labor.

And there are some very rare cases where “huge” nabothian cysts have caused uterine prolapse, too.

But we’ll stress again that these cases are very rare in the medical community — so rare that they publish medical studies for individual cases!

Do nabothian cysts get bigger?

Yes, they can.

Nabothian cysts can vary in size, and some may grow larger over time.

Even if they do increase in size, they usually don’t cause any significant health issues.

But your doctor should discuss a gynecologist referral if your nabothian cyst(s) are 1cm big (or bigger).

Can nabothian cysts turn into cancer?

No, there’s no evidence to suggest that nabothian cysts can turn into cancer — they’re common, benign cysts.

So, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that these cysts are generally nothing to worry about.

But, rarely, a nabothian cyst is broken during a routine cervical exam (or Pap smear), which is no cause for concern.

But, rest assured, nabothian cysts themselves aren’t linked to cancer.

And if you’re worried about any unusual symptoms in your cervical or vaginal health (or any health, for that matter), check in with your doctor.

Do nabothian cysts have symptoms?

Weirdly enough, no, nabothian cysts often don’t cause any noticeable symptoms.

You might not even know you have one unless it’s discovered during a routine pelvic exam or an ultrasound.

But, if there are nabothian cyst symptoms (which are pretty rare), it’s likely to be one of a few of these:

Having any symptoms of these cervical bumps is usually only when it’s “large and complex”.

And, if a large cervical cyst is causing pressure on other organs, it could impact them, too — if it’s pressing on your bladder, you might find it harder to pee, for example.

Do nabothian cysts cause pain?

Generally, the vast majority of these cysts are painless, although some larger cysts can cause mild discomfort.

And, in even rarer cases, you could have nabothian cyst pain in your pelvis, like this woman who had “chronic pelvic pain” when walking.

But, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s super rare to have a cyst that large.

Does a nabothian cyst affect your menstrual cycle?

Typically, no, most cases of nabothian cysts don’t interfere with your period.

But there have been a few rare cases where large cysts caused amenorrhea (that’s science-speak for not having a period) or dysmenorrhea (unusually painful periods).

For most women with nabothian cysts, you won’t find that they impact your menstrual cycle.

What causes nabothian cysts?

So why do these cervical bumps even happen?

Well, technically speaking, nabothian cysts occur when the mucus-producing glands in the cervix become blocked, trapping the mucus inside.

But there are a few potential causes of these cysts — we say “potential”, because, frankly, there aren’t nearly enough medical studies into the causes of nabothian cysts (but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for any news!):

  • Vaginal or cervical trauma, like an injury or surgery (even IUD insertion).
  • Childbirth (which can be a form of vaginal or cervical trauma).
  • Taking birth control medication with estrogen.
  • A family history of cervical cysts.
  • Having a cervical infection or if you’ve had a cervical infection in the past (although this is an uncommon cause).
  • If you’re going through menopause or you’re postmenopausal.

But honestly, the exact reason why some people keep getting nabothian cysts is still a bit of a mystery.

Are nabothian cysts sexually transmitted?

No, nabothian cysts aren’t STDs — and they’re not known to be contagious or infectious.

So if you have these bumps on your cervix, don’t worry, you won’t pass them on.

Are nabothian cysts related to endometriosis?

There’s no evidence yet to suggest that nabothian cysts are directly related to endometriosis, no.

But this study looked into the potential link between nabothian cysts and adenomyosis, which is where endometrial tissue grows on your uterine wall, rather than outside of the uterus, like with endometriosis.

And the findings were that those with adenomyosis were more likely to have nabothian cysts, which could suggest a link — although the study was very small, so let’s wait for more research before we determine a correlation.

Annoyingly, there aren’t many studies on the link between cervical cysts and endometriosis, but if we find anything, we’ll let you know!

Does a nabothian cyst mean pregnancy?

Not necessarily, no — but some people discover they have nabothian cysts from an ultrasound in early pregnancy.

But there’s no evidence to suggest that getting these cervical bumps is a sign that you’re pregnant.

Are nabothian cysts linked to infertility?

Well, sometimes, yes, nabothian cysts can be a contributing factor to infertility.

But they typically don’t prevent pregnancy unless it’s a rare case of a large nabothian cyst.

So, can I get pregnant with a nabothian cyst? Yes!

Many people find they have these cysts when they’re pregnant.

But there aren’t enough medical studies on this right now, so if you have cervical cysts and you want to start trying to conceive, it’s worth talking to your OBGYN, first.

Can a nabothian cyst burst?

Yes, nabothian cysts can burst — but the good news is that it’s super rare for this to happen, usually only if they’re very large.

Usually, they’re small and filled with mucus, which doesn’t put too much pressure on their walls, so they’re not likely to burst.

But, if you notice any small amounts of blood (outside of your usual period) or discharge with a strange smell, it might be that your nabothian cyst is bleeding or has popped.

If that’s the case, it’s not likely to cause an infection, but it can be worth checking in with your doc if you’re concerned.

How long do nabothian cysts last?

Anywhere from a few weeks to years — it varies from person to person.

In most cases, nabothian cysts are small and don’t cause any symptoms, so you might have had them for a while.

They may stick around for some time without causing any harm or requiring treatment.

But if you’re at all worried about your nabothian cysts, chat with your healthcare provider.

Dealing with nabothian cysts

More often than not, the way to deal with nabothian cysts is not to directly deal with them!

They’ll often go away on their own, or stick around, without causing you any issues.

But if a cervical cyst is causing discomfort or if you’re worried about its size or appearance, there are some things your healthcare provider can do to help.

They might, for example, recommend treatment options like cyst removal (also called laparoscopic excision) or drainage — although these are only usually in cases where the cysts are big and obstructing other organs, or causing pain.

How to prevent nabothian cysts

Well, there aren’t really any ways to prevent these cervical cysts, but since cervical trauma can be one of the causes of nabothian cysts, practicing good vaginal and vulval hygiene is always a good idea:

  • Keep clean. Keep your vulval area clean and dry to help prevent infections.
  • Avoid douching. Douching can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina and increase your risk of infection.
  • Get regular pap smears. Pap smears (AKA cervical exams) can help detect early signs of cervical cancer and other abnormalities, including nabothian cysts.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking can damage the cervix and increase your risk of developing cervical cancer and other problems.
  • Use protection during sex, like condoms, to help protect you from sexually transmitted infections, which may increase your risk of developing nabothian cysts.

Should I worry about nabothian cysts?

Generally, no, nabothian cysts aren’t something to worry about.

It’s true that, on rare occasions, they can cause pain or blockages, but these are very rare — and nabothian cysts are pretty common.

But we totally get that the word “cyst” can be really scary to hear.

If you want to talk to other women who get what you’re going through, we’re having the conversation on Peanut.

And if you’re concerned, talk to your doctor — they can give you more personalized advice and guidance on the next steps.

You’re not alone in this, we’re right here with you.


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