Gartner’s duct cysts

Gartner’s duct cysts occur in a developing embryo as ducts that normally disappear after birth stick around. The ducts can turn into vaginal cysts later on in life.

A Gartner’s duct cyst may be misdiagnosed or observed as a pelvic mass, but are usually found during incidental examinations like ultrasound or MRI.

Symptoms of Gartner’s duct cysts

Often there are none, but you might be able to feel a lump on the side of the vagina. Some of these cysts can grow to be huge, however, in which case there will be pain and discomfort due to pressure building along the duct line.

The original duct present is called the Wolffian (mesonephric) duct. They are most often noticed during an ultrasound or an MRI, and appear as a mass.

What a Gartner’s duct cyst means

Usually, the Gartner duct cysts are found alone, however, sometimes they are found with other urinary system abnormalities.

These abnormalities can include one or both kidneys failing to develop in a foetus (renal agenesis), a malformation of the kidneys during development (with cysts) (known as renal dysplasia), and fused kidneys (known as cross-fused ectopia).

The cysts are usually quite small (less than 2cm), however, they can grow bigger than this. Larger cysts may cause painful sex (dyspareunia) and problems giving birth vaginally. These cysts may be marsupialised, drained, or other treatment depending on the size and other characteristics of the cyst.

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)