What's this lump and how can I fix it without health insurance?
March 10, 2009 10:10 AM   Subscribe

LadyFilter: I found a lump where there should not be a lump. (And it's not on my breast.) I do not have health insurance. What to do?

A couple of days ago, I felt a lump toward the rear of my vaginal opening, on one side. (I feel it less from inside my vagina, more like "next to".) It's maybe a bit larger than grape-sized, and as far as I can tell, it hasn't changed sizes since I first noticed it. It definitely was not there a few days before. It doesn't hurt, though it's a little uncomfortable if I prod at it or think about it all the time (which I pretty much do, of course).

1. What could it be? It seems like it could be consistent with the location of a Bartholin cyst, but it's just my worried googling that's led me in that direction. Of course, my head is also filled with terrifying ideas like "hernia!" and "prolapse!" How likely are those things? And are there other things I could bite my nails over?

2. Are there things I can do that could potentially solve my problem without having to see a doctor? I suppose I'll have to see a doctor if the lump doesn't go away or get smaller within a few days (or maybe sooner?), but if there's something I could do for a couple of days to possibly help things along on their own, that would be my ideal.

3. Any advice about where I can see a doctor at minimal or no cost in Seattle, if need be? I am presently unemployed and uninsured, and already ruined my credit once before when I had the nerve to get meningitis without insurance a couple of years ago.

I'm in my late twenties. I did recently begin having sex with a new partner, but only twice so far, and we were very good about condom usage. All STD tests prior to this one partner have come up clean, so I very much doubt that's the issue. (Also, I would prefer to get this taken care of in a manner that allows me to continue having sex with this new partner, with a minimum of embarrassment!)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Planned Parenthood! This is what they are around for. It can be annoying to try and get an appointment with them, as they are often overbooked and understaffed (especially in big cities), but it's how I've always had my ladybits looked after when I don't have insurance, and I've good experiences with them in both New York and San Diego.
posted by witchstone at 10:13 AM on March 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Seconding planned parenthood. I doubt that you have any serious issue going on, but clearly you are worried, and I'm a firm believer in going to the doctor because that may be the only thing that gets people to finally calm down (I'm the same way -- I can rationalize all I want, but sometimes you need the guy in the white coat confirming the diagnosis that "this is just a zit, you're fine").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:26 AM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had a few gyno appointments with the local Public Health Nurse when I didn't have insurance, they did pap smears and tested for yeast infections. They charged on a sliding scale based on income, but they let people pay what they could.
posted by rhapsodie at 10:26 AM on March 10, 2009

If you go to Planned Parenthood call first and ask about sliding scale fees and what documentation you need to bring in to prove your income/lack of income etc. In Chicago not all of the PPs offer sliding scale appointments and the regular fees are a bit less than a regular gyno but still over $100 unless you get into the sliding scale office. If you don't qualify they may be able to suggest other options (state programs, public health offices) for you as they're used to people in your situation.
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:34 AM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sounds like a cyst to me. I get pimple-like things on my vulva from time to time so I understand how freaky it is when you find an uncomfortable and unexplained pump on you parts. I'm also another voice in favor of Planned Parenthood. I haven't had insurance in forever but thanks to PP I have healthy ladybits and birth control. I felt weird the first time I went, I soon started to think it's terrifically cool that there's a place in the world that is that devoted to the health of my lady parts whether I can afford it or not.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:46 AM on March 10, 2009

Have you shaved recently? It could be a pubic zit, which are often caused by shaving. Those things can get pretty big, and take a while to come to a head. Soaking in a hot bath can help bring it on.
posted by essexjan at 10:47 AM on March 10, 2009

If it is soft and you can move it a bit, it is probably OK. But go to PP.
posted by jgirl at 10:48 AM on March 10, 2009

My wife has had two Bartholin cysts in the last six months. It sounds exactly like what you are describing. But why are you so worried about that possibility? They can be a bit painful to treat, but they don't pose any long-term health risks (as far as I know).
posted by pardonyou? at 10:54 AM on March 10, 2009

My friend literally just had to have something similar on her ladybits taken care of at the gyno. It was the result of a plugged duct, and it had to be drained. I would go to Planned Parenthood. On google, Bartholin cyst sounds exactly like what my friend had, and hers started out as small and a bunch of doctors dismissed it - and then it got to be the size of an egg. Don't take no for an answer!
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:58 AM on March 10, 2009

You can also go to the 45th Street Clinic in Wallingford. They are very nice, sex positive, and have sliding scale fees. Go to the doctor; idle worry about this will not fix the problem. Stop Googling it and pick up the phone.

(206) 633-3350

posted by jessamyn at 11:00 AM on March 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Casting another vote for Planned Parenthood, with the additional note that although the waiting room usually is not exactly plush, the people who work there are professional and dedicated to bringing healthcare to women. You don't say this, but just in case: Don't be embarrassed to go. There's nothing you can bring to them that they haven't seen a thousand times before. They will treat you with dignity and respect, and answer all questions you have.
posted by Houstonian at 11:10 AM on March 10, 2009

Planned Parenthood is your best bet.

I've had BC infections twice (once on each side) and it was just horrible but then I have a strange skin condition and went from not knowing anything was wrong to a painfully nasty situation in one day.

As for your second question: try a warm bath with Epsom salts for 10-15 minutes. If this seems to help, try it again the next day. A word of warning, if you are heading into the painfully nasty situation (blocked ducts), the warm soaking can make matters worse. You can also try a warm wet cloth or a heating pad on low (I advise lots of caution on heating pad use in that particular area)

If you do go to a doctor, take along an overnight style sanitary napkin just in case. If you end up with a drain, you'll need the extra layer to protect your clothes (PP might be better supplied than the ER I ended up at - they only had the old belts with hooks and non-adhesive pads)
posted by jaimystery at 11:39 AM on March 10, 2009

Cedar River Clinics
posted by jennyb at 12:39 PM on March 10, 2009

Forgive me if this is obvious, but do not squeeze (or lance) the lump despite the advise offered on the interwebs by people who "treat" themselves; you risk infection and may make things worse by creating a wound.
posted by carmicha at 12:56 PM on March 10, 2009

I had something similar happen to me last year. I got a large, pimple-ish looking lump in that area. Two hours of Googling and WebMD later, I had convinced myself I had herpes. The gyno said it was probably a dermoid cyst (I think that was the term she used), basically a blocked hair follicle. She said to do as jaimystery said, warm washcloth and such. It went away on its own. Although, I did develop a similar lump on my hip a few weeks later, and it was diagnosed as a Staph infection. Either way, your best bet is to see a doctor.
posted by bluloo at 3:57 PM on March 10, 2009

Can't help with what it might be, but when I lived in Seattle, the Country Doctor in Capitol Hill is where I went during my insurance-less years (including visits for pelvic exams/pap smears). I always requested a woman doctor and they always accommodated. Sliding scale, compassionate care. (I last went there about six years ago; it's possible things are different now, but I'd be surprised if they didn't offer the same great care.)
posted by lovermont at 6:54 PM on March 10, 2009

update from the OP
Thank you, everyone, for your advice and help. You all said pretty much exactly what I needed to hear to get over my anxiety. I did call the 45th Street Clinic, but they told me to call back in April and see if they had any appointments available then. (!) And while I get my annual exams at Planned Parenthood and think they're great, their sliding scale didn't slide quite far enough for something I wasn't even convinced really needed medical attention.

So I took the Epsom salt bath/warm compress approach for a few days, to see if things cleared up on their own before resorting to spending money I don't have. I'm figuring it must have been an uninfected Bartholin cyst, because the Epsom salt baths seemed to start to do the trick within about 48 hours. It took a couple of weeks to fully go away, but it's gone now! If it comes back, well, I'm ready, thanks to you guys!
posted by jessamyn at 7:03 AM on March 27, 2009

« Older "If the question involves your genitalia, please...   |   Where to go in the Irish countryside? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.