6 Things It Could Be If You Have A Lump On Your Labia

Photo: getty
lump on labia

I don't remember the first time someone told me just how important it is to examine your breasts for lumps or other abnormalities or changes once a month, but I do remember that it happened pretty early on. I also remember thinking, "are people not regularly playing with their own breasts? What is happening that people need reminding to check 'em monthly?" But that's another story for another day. 

While the importance of regular self-performance breast screenings was made clear to me from a relatively young age, I can't say the same for my vagina. (A point for clarity's sake: when I say "vagina" in this article, I am not specifically referring to the body part the vagina — I'm using it to cover the vulva, the labia, and the mons pubis. That's fine to do, provided you let people know that you're doing it.)

RELATED: 10 WTF Myths About Your Labia That Couldn't Be More Untrue

Because I never knew to explore my vaginal area and check it out for changes much in the way we are told to check our breasts, I was shocked and terrified when I discovered a lump on my labia. I immediately assumed I was dying, and, one very embarrassing trip down to my mom's room for an impromptu examination later, I learned that I wasn't.

I also learned that having a lump on your labia is actually something that can be relatively common. Lumps or bumps on your labia can mean a few different things. Let's break down the most likely reasons here so you don't have to go sobbing to your mom with your pants down. 

1. Bartholin cysts

It's kind of cheating to put this on the top, but since it's the one I've got the most (and most painful) experience with, I thought I'd share. Your vaginal opening is lubricated courtesy of your Bartholin glands. If one of them (or both, it happens) get clogged, this can leads to a zit-like lump on your labia. 

Sometimes they resolve themselves, other times they can turn into cysts which need medical treatment. They can be very painful, and while you may be tempted to "pop" them yourself, do not! The last thing you want is an infection, so go to the doctor.

2. Ingrown hairs 

You know you love 'em, and sometimes they pop up in the most uncomfortable places — ingrown hairs! While your labia minora do not feature hair follicles, your labia major does have hair follicles.

If you regularly wax, shave or pluck, there's a good chance that the bump or lump you're feeling is actually an ingrown hair. These are best treated with gentle exfoliation and lots of warm water and steam to help open the pore and right the hair. 

3. Skin tags 

Guess what? You can totally get skin tags on your ladybits. Yup, it's true, particularly if you are a person who is prone to getting skin tags on other parts of your body. Your labia just wants to join the party. 

These small excess bits of skin aren't dangerous and you don't need to remove them unless they start to catch on clothing or otherwise become uncomfortable. 

RELATED: What Normal Labia Should Really Look Like (Since Men And Women Have 'Opinions')

4. Genital Herpes 

An estimated 1 in 5 Americans has genital herpes, an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. When herpes first strikes, you might not even notice the symptoms. Some folks do complain of flu-like symptoms and genital soreness. 

During a herpes flare, you may notice small red bumps that turn into things that look like blisters or pimples. As with all of these conditions, if you suspect that you have herpes, you should contact your doctor. 

5. Fordyce spots 

Fordyce spots is a fancy name for your sebaceous glands, the glands responsible in the skin for secreting the oils that nourish our skin. While most of these spots occur in places on the body where hair grows, they don't always, which means that yup, you can totally get them on your labia. 

These small spots look almost whitish yellow and can be seen and felt on the labia itself. They are 100 percent harmless. 

6. Cancer 

I want to tell you this right now: the lump on your labia that led you to Google which, in turn, led you to this article is probably not cancer. But in some cases, a lump on the labia that is causing you pain can be indicative of vulvar cancer. 

Cancer of the vulva is super rare. You're more likely to get it if you're a smoker (no duh, you're more likely to get everything if you smoke), and if you are post-menopausal. 

If you spot any sort of new lump or bump on your labia, you should contact your doctor. It's not always easy to talk about this stuff, but if, god forbid, there's something seriously wrong, you can address the issue quickly and have a better chance or recovery. 

RELATED: 5 Reasons To LOVE Your Labia — No Matter What They Look Like

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. Her work focuses on relationships, pop culture and news. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.