A Bartholin’s cyst is a buildup of fluid in one or both of the Bartholin’s glands (glands near the opening of the vagina). The Bartholin’s glands are responsible for secreting fluid upon sexual arousal. Bartholin's cysts occur when the openings to the glands become blocked due to infection, inflammation, or irritation.
Small Bartholin’s cysts are usually unnoticeable and may go away on their own in a few days or weeks; however, larger Bartholin’s cysts may cause pain while sitting, walking, or during intercourse, and if infected can cause fever. Infected Bartholin’s cysts will become hard and fill with pus, causing even further discomfort. Infection can be a result of a variety of bacteria, including anything from E. coli to sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. Bartholin's cysts usually only happen in one gland.
Bartholin’s cysts are not really preventable; however, practicing good hygiene and safe sex may help lower one’s chances of Bartholin’s gland blockage or infection. For Bartholin’s cysts that need treatment, soaking in warm water to help the cyst self-drain or applying warm compresses to the cyst are good first steps. However, surgical drainage for infected, large, or especially uncomfortable cysts may be an option. Antibiotics may be prescribed infected cysts, and special surgeries may be options for those with frequent Bartholin’s cysts. In cases of extreme Bartholin’s cysts, the Bartholin’s gland may be removed.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with or developed a Bartholin’s cyst, speak with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups and forums may also be available for further resources and information.
Description Last Updated: Aug 20, 2018