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Bartholin’s cysts

2-minute read

Bartholin's cysts can develop if the ducts of the Bartholin's glands, found inside the vagina, become blocked. Women are given antibiotics to clear any infection but 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. Bartholin's cysts can come back.

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:

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 3 days of treatment with these baths. If the pain is severe, see your doctor right away. Your doctor might want to rule out cancer, especially if you're over 40.

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. 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.

Sources:

Medical News Today (Cysts: Causes, types, and treatments), Mayo Clinic (Bartholin’s cyst – Definition), Cochrane Library (Word catheter and marsupialisation in women with a cyst or abscess of the Bartholin gland (WoMan-trial): a randomised clinical trial)

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Last reviewed: July 2019


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