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Nabothian cysts

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Retention cysts, 1-1,7 mm, in diameter, formed by the nabothian glands at the neck of the uterus, due to occlusion of the lumina of glands in the mucosa of the uterine cervix, causing them to be distended with retained secretion. They always denote that an ectropion has been present. They are very common.

The cysts were first described by the French surgeon Guillaume Desnoues (1650-1735), who believed that they contained a substance of importance for the sperm. He believed that he had found the female analogue to the male sperm apparatus. Desnoues became professor of anatomy in Genoa. Naboth was familiar with Desnoues' work on the retention cysts, but disagreed with him on their importance. In Naboth's view, the cysts functioned as sacs containing eggs. This occasioned the term ovulum, which is derived from ovum and means small egg. The term Nabothian cysts is used in textbooks in the English language, while the term ovula nabothi is the common term in Scandinavia and the German-speaking countries.

We thank Joseph Constantin, France, for information submitted.


  • M. Naboth:
    De sterilitate mulierum. Leipzig, A. Zeidler, 1707.

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