Vaginal bumps are the first noticeable sign of an STD for many women. Not all bumps on the vagina are abnormal; women who aren’t intimately acquainted with the skin in their genital region may discover bumps that have always been there and become alarmed.
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STDs can cause bumps, sores, pimples, or lesions in or around the vagina. Bumps that are caused by STDs may or may not be painful or itchy. Bumps that appear in the genital area within a few days to a few weeks of sexual contact are likely caused by an STD. Taking a comprehensive STD test is the only way to be sure of the cause of STD-related vaginal bumps.
Genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), and molluscum contagiosum can all cause various types of bumps on the vagina. Genital herpes and HPV are incurable diseases.
Genital herpes may not cause an outbreak when the disease is initially contracted and can lie dormant for years before an outbreak occurs, so it is easy to be unaware of the infection. An outbreak of genital herpes is accompanied by clusters of small, painful round bumps on the external portions of the vagina, such as the vulva and labia, as well as the inside of the vagina. Herpes sores are filled with a clear fluid that eventually oozes out of the sores before they heal on their own. The sores can sometimes be mistaken for syphilis sores, which is why getting tested is the only way to be sure of a genital herpes infection. Genital herpes can be caused by either the HSV-1 or HSV-2 strain of the herpes virus. Outbreaks of genital herpes are a lifelong concern, but steps can be taken to prevent outbreaks once a genital herpes infection is confirmed.
HPV is associated with small bumps, known as genital warts, on the vagina and groin area. The painless, flesh-colored warts are typically small and grow in clusters. Genital warts are persistent and do not clear up on their own like genital herpes. HPV is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer, but can also cause cancer of the vagina, vulva, anus, and throat. While there is no treatment for HPV, the abnormal cell changes caused by high-risk types of HPV can be treated to prevent the progression of precancerous cells.
Getting tested for STDs is the only way to be sure of the cause of vaginal bumps. Sexually active women should get tested regularly to eliminate the risk of an undetected infection. Many STDs are symptomless and can progress into very serious conditions with life-threatening side effects if left untreated.