If You Get 'Zits' On Your Vagina, Here's What You NEED To Know

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vagina zit bartholin cyst

They might not be pimples at all...

The first time I found a big, hard, painful lump just to the side of my vagina I knew there was no way I had an STD

I was eleven and nowhere near sexually active. The closest I'd come to sex was pondering the tingling sensation I felt in my tummy whenever Kevin Sorbo's scantily clad pecs graced my TV screen. 


I figured I was either dying (I was, and am still today, a very dramatic person) or this annoying bump between my legs was another one of the zits that had just started to grace my not-quite adolescent face. 

I ignored it as best as I could and continued about my business. Later that day while going on a long bike ride listening to my cassette tape of Disney's Aladdin on my walkman, I hit a bump in the sidewalk and felt a lightening bolt of pain erupt in my crotch followed by my pants getting soaking wet. 

I raced home and ran into the bathroom to discover that the zit, or whatever it was, had popped, staining my pants with fluid and a little bit of blood. The pain was gone, so I cleaned myself up and went about my business. 

It would go on that way for years. 


The supposed "zits" came about every other month, usually the week before my period. Sometimes they vanished as quickly as they appeared. Other times they became rock hard and swelled, growing more and more painful until they popped on their own or with my not-so-helpful encouragement. 

Gross but true fact: If you like popping face zits, oh my god you would love popping vagina zits. So good. 

Then during one particularly dark period of my twenties, the vagina zits seemed to be coming every other week. They were always in the same place, on either side on my vaginal opening, and nervous I would scar or get some ungodly infection I finally dragged myself to the doctor. 

Because that's what adults with vaginas do. They don't sit around idly popping their crotch zits, they seek medical attention. 

In a dramatic turn that will probably surprise no one but definitely surprised me, it turns out my vagina zits weren't zits at all. 

I had Bartholin gland cysts. 

Your Bartholin ducts sit (yup, you guessed it) on either side of your vaginal opening. They are almost invisible to the human eye, but they serve an important function, secreting fluid to the vaginal lips. The more you know, right?


A Bartholin cysts forms when these ducts get blocked due to injury, injection, or you know, the hygeine of a negligent 11 year-old. 

The cysts are harmless if at times painful. If you get one, you should treat it with a hot warm compress and lots of time. Do not follow any of the instructions about elaborate herbal hip baths you can take to cure yourself that you might find on the internet. Instead, trust your doctor.


Bartholin cysts are actually relatively common, their evil cousin Bartholin abscesses are what you need to watch out for. An abcess is formed when a cyst gets infected. The fact that I have not gotten one yet is a miracle beyond words. 

There's no way to full-on stop getting Bartholin cysts. If it happens once, it's likely to happen again. There is a surgery that involves creating a large pocket for the ducts, but that can reduce sensitivity, doesn't guarantee no more cysts, and you have a large pocket in your vagina. So there's that. 

Learn from my mistakes. If you spot something on or in your vagina that doesn't make any sense, that is causing you pain, and you can't identify it, contact a doctor. The internet is great for memes, personal essays, and tips about how to have the world's hottest orgasms. It's not so great at actually treating you gynecological ailments. 



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