By Board Certified Urologist Dr. Yana Barbalat
Skene’s glands are small glands that surround the female urethra. Embryologically, they are homologous to the male prostate gland, and are thought to secrete fluid into the urethra. The exact purpose of the skene’s glands in the female urinary tact is unknown but these are the cysts that may be responsible for “female ejaculation.”
Occasionally, when patients have frequent urinary tract infections, the skene’s glands can get recurrently infected with bacteria and inflamed. This is called skenitis and most people do not have any symptoms when this occurs. Eventually, the inflammation may lead to scarring and then blockage of the skene’s gland.
Blockage of the skene’s gland means that fluid cannot be properly secreted out of the gland into the urethra. When this happens, a cyst can form. Sometimes, skene’s gland cysts go unnoticed and produce no symptoms. Other times, these cysts can cause pain with urination, sideways peeing, pain with sexual intercourse, and recurrent UTIs. If a cyst gets infected, an abscess, or pus-filled fluid sack, may form. These are very painful and can cause the patient to feel very unwell.
Any time a woman presents with “recurrent urinary tract infections”, it is very important to do a good physical exam and take a look at the urethra. Urinary tract infections can be a risk factor for skene’s gland cysts and skene’s gland cysts can also be a risk factor for frequent UTIs!