Nabothian cyst is a non-malignant condition that tends to appear in many women of childbearing age. Find out all about this ailment, including its symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment.
What is Nabothian cyst?
It is a benign cyst filled with mucus present on the surface of the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus that extends into the vagina. The condition is also known by other names like:
- Nabothian follicles
- Epithelial inclusion cysts
- Mucinous retention cysts
- Cervical cyst
Nabothian cyst Variants
A special type of cyst called tunnel cluster is marked by complex multicystic dilatation of the endocervical glands that typically cover the canal of the cervix.
Nabothian cyst Symptoms
The cervical cyst does not produce any symptoms and majority of female patients are unaware of this condition. In fact, most cases are detected accidentally, during pregnancy-related examinations. However, larger cysts can block the cervical opening and cause irregular bleeding as well as vaginal discharge. Some patients experience severe pain in the cervical region, especially during an intercourse. Normally, these cysts appear as tiny, white, solid, elevated bumps with pale yellow to amber mucus secretions on the cervical region. Approximately, these small lumps measure 2 mm to 10 mm in diameter.
Nabothian cyst Causes
The cervix is often called the neck of the womb. Its main function is to facilitate the smooth flow of menstrual blood from the uterus into the vagina, and direct the sperms into the uterus during intercourse. In pregnant women, it keeps the uterus closed and prevents the developing fetus from slipping out. Medical investigators haven’t been able to determine the exact cause of the condition, but some believe that the cyst normally occurs after childbirth. The cervix is usually lined with a simple columnar epithelium, comprising of elongated and cylindrical cells with hair-like projections called cilia that move mucus secreted by the tiny nabothian glands or cervical crypts in this region. Ciliated columnar epithelium also propels the egg cell toward the uterus. However, post-delivery stratified squamous epithelium, which is composed of several layers of keratin-containing platelike epithelial cells, grows over the simple columnar epithelium. The new tissue growth blocks the openings of the mucus-releasing glands lining the cervix. The cervical mucus gets trapped in tiny subdermal pockets through a process called metaplasia in which there is an excessive production of skin cells. Constant accumulation of mucus transforms the cervical crypts into a cyst. Affected individuals may exhibit more than one cyst.
Thinning of the cervical skin in many menopausal women is also counted as a common cause of this condition. Patients with cervicitis, an inflammatory condition of the uterine cervix, are often prone to such types of cysts. Similarly, the tiny mucus lump has been associated with other cervical infections caused by sexually transmitted diseases.
Nabothian cyst Diagnosis
A large percentage of diagnosed cervical cysts are detected by women who feel or observe a lump when inserting a diaphragm or cervical cap, a form of barrier contraception. In order to determine the fertile and infertile phases of the menstrual cycle, many women go for a cervical examination as a part of fertility awareness. Here, a variety of methods are used to check for any abnormality in the cervix. Healthcare providers usually conduct a pelvic exam to look for any abnormal mass on the surface of the cervix. If a cyst is suspected, doctors may opt for colposcopy. In this procedure, an instrument equipped with a range of magnification lenses and color filters called colposcope is used to examine the vaginal walls and cervix through the vaginal opening. To test for a precancerous condition some tissues from the cervix are often removed and sent for biopsy.
Nabothian cyst Treatment
Asymptomatic cases do not require any treatment. Larger or multiple cysts can however, pose threats to the health of the patients and need early removal. The following therapeutic techniques are normally used for eradication of the lumps:
In this minimally invasive method, extreme cold is used to freeze and destroy the cervical cyst with the aid of liquid nitrogen.
It is a surgical procedure that involves the introduction of high frequency current to the cervical region for removing the abnormal mass. Minimal blood loss is the main advantage of this method.
Nabothian cyst Prognosis
The outlook for patients with Nabothian follicles is excellent with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Presence of a smaller cyst does not manifest into a malignant condition unless it grows bigger or proliferates.
Majority of patients with a Nabothian cyst do not face any significant problem as the condition often disappears on its own. Nevertheless, it is important to seek medical help if you notice some form of an abnormal growth on the cervical surface.
Images of Nabothian cyst