Bartholin Gland Cyst
(Bartholin’s Cyst; Greater Vestibular Gland Cyst; Bartholin Gland Abscess)
A Bartholin gland cyst is a fluid sac in the opening of the vagina. If it becomes infected, it is called an abscess.
Bartholin glands make fluid that keeps the vagina moist. The glands can become blocked and cause a backup of fluid. This fluid creates the cyst.
Bacteria or viruses can get into the trapped fluid. They can grow and cause an infection.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Injury or surgery in the area
- Never having a pregnancy—or having a first pregnancy
- Sexually transmitted infections
Bartholin gland cysts do not always cause problems. Those that do may cause:
- A painless or tender lump on either side of the opening of the vagina
- A lump that may grow
- Pain and pressure with activities, such as walking or sex
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis may be based on the exam.
The doctor may need to rule out other problems. This may include testing fluids or tissue from the cyst. Sometimes imaging is done to look at the cyst.
Small cysts without symptoms may not need treatment. Cysts that are causing problems may be treated at home with:
- Sitz bath—sitting in a warm water bath to soften the cyst and help it drain
- Medicine to ease pain or treat infection
Procedures can help drain cysts that are large or cause problems. Options are:
- Catheterization—A tube is put into the cyst to drain the fluid.
- Marsupialization—An incision is made in the cyst and stitched open—to drain fluids.
- Gland removal—less common
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
- Bartholin gland cyst and abscess. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bartholin-gland-cyst-and-abscess.
- Bartholin’s cyst. NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bartholins-cyst.
- Bartholin’s gland cyst. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/bartholins-gland-cyst.
- Omole F, Kelsey RC,et al. Bartholin duct cyst and gland abscess: office management. Am Fam Physician. 2019;99(12):760-766.
- Elizabeth Margaret Prusak, MD
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