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Bartholin’s cysts

Bartholin’s cysts are a common cyst that can develop if the ducts of the bartholin glands, inside the vagina, become blocked. Women are given antibiotics to clear any infection however, some women with Bartholin’s cysts have surgery to have them removed.

What causes a Bartholin’s cyst

Bartholin’s glands are found on each side of the vaginal opening and produce the fluid that helps lubricate the vagina. Sometimes the glands become blocked and the fluid causes a Bartholin’s cyst. If the fluid becomes infected, it will form pus and become a Bartholin’s abscess.

You’ll usually have a cyst or abscess on one side of your vaginal opening at a time which can recur.

Bartholin’s cysts symptoms

You can have a Bartholin’s cyst and not have symptoms, but a cyst may grow so that you feel a lump near the opening of your vagina.

If it becomes infected, you may notice:

  • a tender or painful lump near the vaginal entrance
  • pain during intercourse
  • discomfort when walking or sitting
  • fever.

Bartholin’s cysts diagnosis and treatment

If your cyst isn’t causing pain or discomfort, you may not need treatment. Sometimes home treatment, such as soaking the affected part several times a day in a shallow, warm bath, will make an infected cyst break open and drain by itself.

See your doctor if your cyst doesn’t get better after three days of treatment with these baths. If the pain is severe, see your doctor right away.

You should also see your doctor if you notice a new lump in the vaginal area and you’re older than 40 as it may be a sign of cancer.

The type of treatment will depend on:

  • the size of the cyst
  • if it’s painful
  • whether the cyst is infected
  • whether it is cancerous.

Your doctor may perform a pelvic examination and send samples of vaginal secretions for testing. If you are over 40 your doctor may take cell samples to test for cancer.

You may need to have the cyst drained or take a course of antibiotics if it’s infected. In rare cases, surgery may be needed.

Last reviewed: June 2015

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