Merck Manual

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Skene Duct Cyst


Charlie C. Kilpatrick

, MD, MEd, Baylor College of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jul 2019| Content last modified Jul 2019
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Skene duct cysts develop near the opening of the urethra when the ducts to the Skene glands are blocked.

  • Skene duct cysts are very rare.

  • Many people with Skene duct cysts have no symptoms or only minor irritation.

  • Large cysts may cause pain during sexual intercourse or sometimes during urination.

  • Doctors can usually diagnose these cysts during a pelvic examination, but sometimes ultrasonography or cystoscopy is done to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Cysts that cause symptoms can be removed.

  • Very rarely, abscesses develop and are treated with antibiotics, then removal of the cyst or creation of a permanent opening in the cyst.

Skene glands, also called periurethral or paraurethral glands, are located around the opening of the urethra. The tissue that surrounds them includes part of the clitoris. The glands may be involved in sexual stimulation and lubrication for sexual intercourse.

Skene duct cysts are rare. They form if the duct to the gland is blocked, usually because the gland is infected. These cysts occur mainly in adults.


Most Skene duct cysts are less than 1/2 inch (about 1 centimeter) in diameter and do not cause any symptoms. Some cysts are larger and cause pain during sexual intercourse. Sometimes cysts cause pain during urination. If large enough, a cyst may block the flow of urine through the urethra. In such cases, the first symptoms may be a hesitant start when urinating, dribbling at the end of urination, and retention of urine. If a urinary tract infection develops, women may have a frequent, urgent need to urinate, and urination may be painful.

Very rarely, Skene duct cysts become infected and form an abscess. Abscesses are tender, painful, and swollen. The skin over the ducts appears red. Most women do not have a fever.


  • A pelvic examination

  • Sometimes ultrasonography or cystoscopy

During a pelvic examination, doctors can usually feel Skene duct cysts or abscesses if they are large enough to cause symptoms. However, ultrasonography or a flexible viewing tube to view the bladder (cystoscopy) may be used to confirm the diagnosis.


  • Removal of the cyst

  • For abscesses, antibiotics, then removal of or creation of a permanent opening in the cyst

If cysts cause symptoms, they are removed, usually in a doctor’s office or in an operating room. In the office, a local anesthetic is usually used.

For abscesses, antibiotics are given by mouth for 7 to 10 days. Then, the cyst is removed. Or doctors may make a small cut in the cyst and stitch the edges of the cyst to the surface of the vulva (marsupialization) so that it can drain.

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