Bartholin cyst is a relatively painless swelling on one or both sides of the vaginal opening which results from fluid retention into Bartholin gland. Bartholin gland is a small gland located on both sides of the vaginal opening and it secretes a clear fluid that helps lubricate the vagina.
Bartholin cyst occurs usually in one side only. And, you may not even notice that it is present, if it is small. As it grows larger, you may feel a lump or a mass, which is sometimes painful, on the side of the vaginal opening. The cyst may become infected by bacteria and turn into an abscess, which is a pus surrounded by inflamed tissue. The abscess may be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Fever, due to infection.
- The lump becomes painful and tender, more painful on touching it.
- You may feel discomfort during walking or sitting.
- Sexual intercourse becomes painful.
Bartholin cyst is believed to be caused by retention of Bartholin gland secretions inside itself leading to its swelling. This retention is a result of an obstruction of the opening of the gland either by growth of a flap of skin or by infection with common bacteria as E-coli or with sexually transmitted Gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
The doctor will discuss your medical history with you, and examine your pelvis.
Also, he/she may take a sample of your vaginal secretions for investigations if he suspects a sexually transmitted disease as the cause.
If you are postmenopausal or elder than 40 years, a biopsy of the mass is recommended to check if there are cancerous cells to exclude cancer.
If Bartholin cyst is asymptomatic, no treatment is needed, at all. According to its size, the pain it causes and if it turns into abscess, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatment options:
How is Bartholin's gland cyst being treated?Click thumbnail to view full-size
Useful External Links for Bartholin's Cyst:
- Bartholin Gland Cyst-Treatment Overview
Most Bartholin gland cysts don't need treatment, or they go away on their own.
- Bartholin's Gland Cyst | Overview -- FamilyDoctor.org
Learn about the symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention of Bartholin’s gland cysts.
- Bartholin's cyst - Wikipedia
Learn more about Bartholin's cyst at Wikipedia
1. Sitz Bath: Trying sitz bath several times a day for 3 to 4 days may help rupture the cyst and make it drains on itself. Sitz bath is soaking of the body in a tube filled with warm water for several minutes.
2. Surgical drainage: Large cysts and abscesses need to be drained by the doctor. Surgical drainage is done under local or general sedation for your comfort by making a small incision in the cyst to allow it to drain, then a small catheter (rubber tube) is placed in the incision for up to six week to allow complete drainage. After that, the catheter may fall on its own or be removed by the doctor to allow the incision to completely heal.
3. Antibiotics: Sometimes, abscesses need antibiotic to destroy the causative bacteria. Also, if sexually transmitted diseases are the cause, antibiotic are essential in treatment. Proper drainage of the abscess makes antibiotics useless.
4. Marsupialization: In cases of recurrence, Marsupialization is performed. It is the same as surgical drainage with little difference that the doctor makes stitches on the sides of the incision to make a permanent opening. Drainage catheter may be also used to promote drainage. Surgical drainage of the cyst prior to Marsupialization is recommended.
5. Removal of Bartholin Gland: It is performed under general anesthesia in the hospital, if all of the previous lines failed to treat persistent cyst or there is persistent recurrence.
Keep in good Hygiene!
There is no way to prevent the occurrence of Bartholin cyst but, you may prevent its transformation into abscess. Practice safe sex, by using condoms and good general hygiene may help prevent the cyst from being infected and becoming abscess.