Harvard Health Publications

Nabothian Cysts

What Is It?

Nabothian cysts are cysts filled with mucus that look like tiny bumps on the surface of the cervix. They are usually 2 millimeters to 10 millimeters in diameter, and they contain mucus that ranges in color from pale yellow to amber.

In most cases, nabothian cysts occur when new tissue regrows on the cervix after childbirth. This new tissue blocks the openings of the cervix's nabothian glands, trapping their mucous secretion in tiny pockets under the skin. Nabothian cysts are a normal finding on the cervix of women who have had children. They also are seen in menopausal women whose cervical skin has thinned with age. Less often, nabothian cysts are related to chronic cervicitis, a long-term infection of the cervix.

Nabothian cysts also are called nabothian follicles, epithelial inclusion cysts, and mucinous retention cysts.

Symptoms

Nabothian cysts do not cause any symptoms unless they become very large.

Diagnosis

In most cases, your doctor discovers that you have nabothian cysts during a routine gynecological exam. They almost always are considered to be normal.

Rarely, when there is something unusual about the cyst's size or appearance, your doctor may do a procedure called a colposcopy, which uses a magnifying instrument to examine the surface of the cervix closely. If the cyst looks abnormal during this exam, your doctor may do a biopsy to check for rare forms of mucus-producing cancer. In a biopsy, a small piece of tissue from the cervix is removed and examined in a laboratory.

Expected Duration

Nabothian cysts are usually a long-term condition. Over time, some cysts may get bigger.

Prevention

Because nabothian cysts are considered to be normal, it is not necessary to prevent them.

Treatment

Usually, no treatment is needed. However, in some cases, your gynecologist may choose to remove the cyst. This can be done one of two ways:

  • Electrocautery, which uses a heated probe to destroy the cyst

  • Cryotherapy, in which the gynecologist freezes the cyst with liquid nitrogen

When To Call A Professional

Because nabothian cysts are normal and do not cause any symptoms, you probably will not know they are there. However, if you are an adult woman who is sexually active, it is important to visit your gynecologist at least once a year for a routine checkup.

Prognosis

The prognosis is excellent.

External resources

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 31
Room 2A32
MSC 2425
31 Center Dr.
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
Phone: (301) 496-5133
Toll-Free: (800) 370-2943
http://www.nichd.nih.gov/

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th St., SW
P.O. Box 96920
Washington, DC 20090-6920
Phone: (202) 863-2518
http://www.acog.org/


Disclaimer: This content should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a call or visit to a health professional. Use of this content is subject to specific Terms of Use & Medical Disclaimers.

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