What is bartholin gland cyst?

Bartholin Gland Cyst

Bartholin gland cyst in teens: Overview

The Bartholin glands are two small organs that are located on each side of the vaginal opening. The glands are normally about the size of a pea. They produce fluid to lubricate the vagina and vulva through a small opening. If the opening is blocked, the gland swells with fluid and forms a cyst. Bartholin gland cysts are often small and painless. But if a cyst gets infected by bacteria, it can grow and become red and painful. This is called an abscess. If a cyst is infected, large, or painful, it may need to be drained.

You may have had a small tube (catheter) placed into the cyst or minor surgery to let the cyst drain. The tube will usually be left in for about 4 weeks. If you have an infection, your doctor may do a lab test to find out what kind of bacteria caused the infection. And you may get antibiotics to treat the infection.

You may have some drainage from the cyst for a few weeks.

Bartholin glands and Bartholin cysts

Bartholin glands are two small organs that are located on each side of the vaginal opening. They produce fluid to lubricate the vagina and the vulva. If the duct to a Bartholin gland becomes blocked, fluid builds up inside the gland, causing a cyst.

What are the symptoms of a Bartholin gland cyst?

You may not have any symptoms if the Bartholin gland cyst is small. But a large cyst or an infected cyst (abscess) can cause symptoms.

Symptoms of a cyst that is not infected include:

  • A painless lump near the opening of the vagina.
  • Discomfort when you walk, sit, or have sex.

Symptoms of an infected cyst include:

  • Pain that gets worse and makes it hard to walk, sit, or move around.
  • Swelling or redness on the vulva.
  • Drainage from the cyst.
  • Fever.

How is a Bartholin gland cyst treated?

Some Bartholin gland cysts heal without treatment. For mild discomfort, over-the-counter pain medicine can help. Warm baths can help the cyst drain. If the cyst is large or infected, your doctor might drain it or prescribe antibiotics. To prevent it from returning, laser treatment or surgery may be suggested for some people.

How is a Bartholin gland cyst diagnosed?

You may find a Bartholin gland cyst on your own, or your doctor may notice it during a physical exam. Unless it is causing symptoms, you may not know you have one.

An abscess is diagnosed based on signs of infection, such as fever or swelling, and pain in the vulva area.

In some cases, especially if you are older, your doctor may biopsy the cyst to make sure that it isn't cancer or another problem.

How can you care for yourself when you have a Bartholin gland cyst?

  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Sit in a few inches of warm water (sitz bath) for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a day. Then pat the area dry. The warm water helps the area heal and eases discomfort.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Wear panty liners or pads if you have discharge from the draining cyst.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
  • If you had a catheter placed in the cyst to help it drain, follow your doctor's instructions for activities until the tube comes out.

What causes a Bartholin gland cyst?

Things like thick mucus or swelling can block a Bartholin gland duct and cause a cyst. The cyst can get bigger after sex, because the glands make more fluid during sex.

Infected Bartholin cysts are sometimes caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can lower your risk of STIs by using a condom when you have sex.

What is a Bartholin gland cyst?

Bartholin glands

The Bartholin glands are two small organs that are located on each side of the vaginal opening. Most of the time, you can't feel or see these glands.

The Bartholin glands make a small amount of fluid to lubricate the vagina and the vulva. This fluid comes out of two tiny tubes next to the opening of the vagina. These tubes are called Bartholin ducts.

Bartholin gland cyst

If a Bartholin duct gets blocked, fluid builds up in the gland. The blocked gland is called a Bartholin gland cyst. (Sometimes it's called a Bartholin duct cyst.) These cysts can range in size from a pea to a large marble. They usually grow slowly. If the Bartholin gland or duct gets infected, it's called a Bartholin gland abscess.

Bartholin gland cysts are often small and painless. Some go away without treatment. But if you have symptoms, you might want treatment. If the cyst is infected, you will need treatment.

Bartholin gland

Female genital area, showing Bartholin glands on each side of vagina opening

On each side of the opening to the vagina, there is a Bartholin gland. These two glands produce fluid to lubricate the vagina and the vulva.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of a new or worse infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Increased drainage from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • The catheter falls out.
  • You are not getting better as expected.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.