Every woman has two Bartholin’s Glands that are located on either side of the bottom of the opening of the vagina. The glands secrete a small amount of natural fluid that prevents the vulva from getting too dry. Moreover, these glands maintain vaginal moisture and reduce friction during sexual intercourse. If the ducts of the Bartholin’s Glands become blocked or infected, it can lead to the development of a Bartholin’s cyst or abscess. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and discomfort.

How does a cyst form?

These glands can get blocked. If that happens, the fluid can get backed up and form a swelling or cyst just underneath the skin. Usually these don’t have any bothersome symptoms. Other times, they can be slightly irritating with movement or sex. No symptoms? It may not need any treatment. Sometimes sitz baths or warm compresses can help at home. If the cyst gets infected and forms an abscess, this can be very painful. You need evaluation right away. How will you know if it’s infected? Trust me, YOU WILL KNOW. Because these are exquisitely painful.

Treatment for Bartholin’s Gland cysts

Bartholin’s gland cysts are relatively common, affecting women of all ages, but the exact prevalence can vary. For example, while some women may experience small, painless cysts that resolve on their own, others may develop larger cysts or abscesses that cause discomfort and require medical intervention. To treat Bartholin’s cysts or abscesses, we drain them (usually in office). However, if infected and too painful, the operating room may be needed. To help them heal, we can:

  • Drain them
  • Insert a small catheter called a word catheter while it heals
  • Add a few stitches to keep a channel to the gland open
  • In rare cases, we may recommend surgery to remove the gland/cyst entirely.

Antibiotics are generally not needed unless the infection is spreading to the skin surrounding the cyst. Yet, if you notice a new bump/lump/swelling/pain in the vulvar region – see your doctor to get it checked out!

How to prevent cysts

While Bartholin’s gland cysts may not always be preventable, certain self-care measures and lifestyle adjustments can help reduce the risk of developing them. For example:

  • Maintaining good hygiene practices
  • Use unscented soap and water to clean yourself
  • Wear breathable cotton underwear
  • Avoid irritating products like douches
  • Stay hydrated
  • Practice safe sex to prevent STIs
  • Use warm compresses during flare-ups if needed

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The information provided on this website is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Our content is not a substitute for professional medical guidance, diagnosis, or treatment. Health and wellness are complex, highly individualized matters, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. If you have any medical concerns or questions about your health, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider or medical care team. They can provide personalized advice based on your medical history, current condition, and specific needs. The internet can be a valuable resource for gathering information, but decisions about your health should always be made in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.