Vaginal Stones are Either Primary or Secondary
A primary vaginal stone typically develops after surgery, trauma, neurogenic bladder, vaginal stenosis, or vaginal outlet obstruction. Women with congenital genitourinary malformations or urethrovaginal fistulas are most at risk. If a woman is dealing with any of these issues their OBGYN must continue to monitor their condition through routine checkups so they can promptly find and treat vaginal stones if they develop. Secondary vaginal stones typically develop due to the presence of foreign bodies in the vagina, whether an IUD (intrauterine device) or surgical mesh.
Vaginal Stone Symptoms Aren’t Unique to This Condition
Vaginal stones do mimic symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), so you may not be able to immediately spot a difference. Vaginal stones can cause an increase in urinary urgency and frequency. You may also experience vaginal pain, abdominal pain, and pain with sex or urination.
Vaginal Stones Can Be Removed
The best way to treat vaginal stones is to have them removed. This will require surgery. The procedure itself may employ extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, the same treatment used to break up kidney stones. This surgery is performed under anesthesia. Any urethrovaginal fistulas should not be repaired at the time of surgery, but rather corrected months after the stone has been removed. Patients with serious health complications, as well as older patients, may do better with an open cystostomy, a surgical procedure that is sometimes used to remove large bladder stones as well.
If you are at risk for vaginal stones, it’s important to speak with your gynecologist. Many other conditions can lead to abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, so it’s important to turn to an OBGYN who can provide you with the answers and treatment you’re looking for.
There are Different Kinds of Vaginal Cysts
Most vaginal cysts can be found under or within the lining of the vagina. Types of vaginal cysts include:
- Inclusion cysts: this most common type of vaginal cyst develops in the back of the vaginal wall
- Bartholin’s gland cysts: cysts that develop in the Bartholin’s gland, which are found on either opening of the vagina
- Gartner’s duct: this congenital malformation occurs when ducts that are supposed to disappear in-utero don’t, which may result in vaginal cysts developing later on
- Müllerian cysts: these cysts that develop around the vaginal wall form in areas that were left behind after the development and birth of a baby
There are several reasons a vaginal cyst may develop. Trauma is most common in cysts that develop in the vaginal walls. This may be the result of childbirth or surgery.
Cysts that develop on the outer area of the vagina such as a Bartholin’s gland cyst, may be the result of a bacterial infection or a sexually transmitted disease. Sometimes clogged glands or ducts are also to blame.
Vaginal Cysts Don’t Often Cause Symptoms
Unless you’re dealing with an infected Bartholin’s gland cyst, you probably won’t even know if you have a vaginal cyst. Most of the time, these cysts are detected by a gynecologist during a routine exam. Most cysts aren’t painful; however, some may cause pain with sex. If you’re dealing with a painful lump, this could be a sign of infection.
Most Vaginal Cysts Don’t Need Treatment
Since most vaginal cysts remain small and don’t cause problems they often don’t need to be removed; however, if the cyst continues to grow, cause pain, or show signs of infection, then you’ll want to see your gynecologist. External vaginal cysts can be eased with simple home care such as a warm soak or sitz bath. If the cyst is infected, antibiotics may be prescribed. Sometimes the cyst will need to be drained to heal (this is more common in Bartholin’s gland cysts). Most of the time surgery is not recommended for removing a vaginal cyst.
If you notice any unusual lumps, bumps, or lesions in the vaginal areas, it’s always a good idea to turn to your OBGYN to find out what’s going on.
Symptoms of UTI During Pregnancy:
- Bleeding during urination
- Pain while urinating
- Frequent need to urinate
- IV fluids or increased water consumption
Seeking treatment for a UTI is important because the prolonged infection may spread to the kidneys, which is a much higher risk issue. Treatment for a UTI will include a course of antibiotics prescribed by your provider, which are safe to take during pregnancy when needed.
Antibiotics must be taken properly (according to the instructions given by your provider and the pharmacist) as well as taken in their entirety. Stopping antibiotic treatment early can cause a relapse in symptoms or worsening infection. While you are recovering from a UTI, make sure to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid sexual activity until your provider clears you of infection.
To prevent future infections, wipe from front to back after using the bathroom and after sex and drink water frequently to stay hydrated. Proper hygiene can keep bacteria away from the urinary tract and sufficient fluids can flush any missed bacterial particles from the body, ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
- Exercise: While no one is suggesting you run a marathon to get ready for birth, light to moderate exercise can help prepare your body. In some cases, it has been shown to encourage dilation and loosen a woman's hips. It is always best not to overdo it, though. It is important to save your energy for the actual labor!
- Sex: Some women report that their sex drive is heightened during pregnancy, while others insist it is the furthest thing from their minds. Whichever side you fall on, sex does have some undeniable benefits, like bonding with your significant other, relaxation, and sometimes even softening the cervix. Nipple stimulation has also been shown to bring on contractions, but proceed with caution due to the rare chance that contractions can become severe and prolonged.
- Membrane Stripping: Some providers offer a simple in-office procedure known as membrane stripping. This occurs when the doctor inserts a finger and separates the thin membrane lining from the uterine wall. Research shows that spontaneous labor often follows in the days after the procedure, but not always.
How is cervical dysplasia treated?
The best course of action for treating your cervical dysplasia will depend on the severity of your dysplasia. During a biopsy, your gynecologist will be able to analyze the cervical tissue to determine the level of cervical dysplasia. There are three cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) levels, with CIN I being mild, CIN II being moderate and CIN III being severe.
If you’ve been diagnosed with CIN I, it may clear up on its own without even needing treatment; however, you will still need to see your gynecologist about every six months for a Pap smear to detect further changes or to determine if the cells have gone away.
If you’ve been diagnosed with moderate to severe cervical dysplasia, treatment options include cryosurgery to freeze the abnormal cells, a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) to burn away the cells, or a more traditional surgical approach that will remove the cervical cells with surgical tools or a laser. Since cervical dysplasia can return, you must be visiting your gynecologist regularly for screenings and checkups.
Is there a way to prevent cervical dysplasia?
One of the best ways for women to protect themselves against cervical dysplasia is to get the HPV vaccine. This vaccine has been approved to protect against several strains of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer. The vaccine is often administered around the age of 11 or 12, but anyone up to age 26 years should consider getting vaccinated. If you are over the age of 26, you should speak with your gynecologist to find out if getting the vaccine is right for you.
Since any woman can develop cervical cancer at any age you must be visiting your OBGYN regularly for routine checkups and screenings. Don’t put off these important annual women’s health checkups.
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