Bartholin’s Cyst – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments

Bartholin’s Cyst – What it is, Symptoms and Antibiotic Treatments. Also, Bartholin’s Cyst or Bartholin’s glands (BAHR-toe-linz) are located on either side of the vaginal opening . These glands secrete fluids that help lubricate the vagina. Sometimes the openings of these glands become blocked, causing fluid to back up in the gland. The result is a relatively painless swelling called a Bartholin’s cyst . If the fluid inside the cyst becomes infected, you may develop a collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue (abscess).

Bartholin’s cyst or abscess is common. Bartholin ‘s cyst treatment depends on the size of the cyst, how painful the cyst is, and whether the cyst is infected. Sometimes home treatment is all you need. In other cases, surgical drainage of the Bartholin’s cyst is necessary. If an infection occurs, antibiotics may be helpful to treat the infected Bartholin’s cyst .

Causes of  Bartholin’s Cyst:  Experts believe that the cause of a Bartholin’s Cyst is a backup of fluid. Fluid can build up when the gland opening (duct) becomes blocked, perhaps caused by infection or injury. A Bartholin’s cyst can become infected, forming an abscess. A number of bacteria can cause the infection, including Escherichia coli (E. coli) and bacteria that cause sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Bartholin  ‘s Cyst  Symptoms : If you have a smalluninfected Bartholin’s Cyst  , you may not notice it. If the cyst grows, you may feel a lump or mass near your vaginal opening . Although a cyst is usually painless, it can be mild. A complete infection of a Bartholin’s Cyst can occur in a matter of days. If the cyst becomes infected, you may experience:

  • A tender, painful lump near the vaginal opening
  • Discomfort when walking or sitting
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Fever

A Bartholin’s cyst or abscess typically occurs on just one side of the vaginal opening .

When to See a Doctor:  Call your doctor if you have a painful lump near the opening of your vagina that doesn’t get better after two or three days of self-care – for example, soaking the area in warm water (sitz bath). If the pain is severe, make an appointment with your doctor right away. Also call your doctor promptly if you find a new lump near your vaginal opening  and you are over 40 years old. Although rare, such a lump can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as cancer.

Bartholin ‘s Cyst  Complications  A Bartholin’s cyst or abscess can recur and again require treatment.

Preparing for Your Appointment:  Your first appointment will likely be with your primary care provider or a doctor who specializes in conditions affecting women (gynecologist). To prepare for your appointment:

  • Write down your symptoms, including any that seem unrelated to your condition.
  • Make a list of any medications, vitamins, or supplements you take along with the dosages.
  • Take a notebook or notepad with you to jot down information during your visit.
  • Prepare questions to ask your doctor, listing the most important questions first to make sure you cover them.

For a Bartholin’s Cyst , some basic questions to ask include:

  • What is likely to cause my symptoms?
  • What kind of tests might I need?
  • Will the cyst go away on its own, or will I need treatment?
  • How long should I wait after treatment before having sex?
  • What self-care measures can help relieve my symptoms?
  • Will the cyst come back again?
  • Do you have any printed materials or brochures I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?

Do not hesitate to ask any other questions during your consultation, as they do for you.

What to Expect from Your Doctor:  Some potential questions your doctor may ask include:

  • How long have you had symptoms?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Do you feel pain during sex?
  • Do you feel pain during normal daily activities?
  • Does anything improve symptoms?
  • Does anything make your symptoms worse?

Bartholin ‘s Cyst  Tests and Diagnosis  To diagnose a Bartholin’s cyst , your doctor may:

  • Ask questions about your medical history
  • Perform a pelvic exam
  • Take a sample of secretions from your vagina or cervix to test for a  sexually transmitted infection
  • Recommend a test of the mass (biopsy) to check for cancer cells if post-menopausal or older than 40

If cancer is a concern, your doctor may refer you to a gynecologist who specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system.

Bartholin ‘s Cyst  Treatments   Often, a Bartholin’s cyst does not require any treatment – especially if the cyst does not cause any signs or symptoms. When needed, treatment depends on the size of the cyst, its level of discomfort, and the infection, which can result in an abscess. Treatment options your doctor may recommend include:

  • Sitz Baths: Soaking in a bathtub filled with a few inches of hot water (sitz bath) several times a day for three or four days can help a small infected cyst to rupture and ooze on its own.
  • Surgical Sanitation: You may need surgery to drain an infected or very large cyst. Drainage of a cyst can be done with local anesthesia or sedation.

For the procedure, your doctor makes a small incision in the cyst, allows it to drain, and then places a small rubber tube (catheter) through the incision. The catheter remains in place for up to six weeks to keep the incision open and allow complete drainage.

  • Antibiotics: Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic if your cyst is infected or if the test reveals that you have a sexually transmitted infection . But if the abscess drains properly, you may not need antibiotics.
  • Marsupialization: If the cysts recur or bother, a marsupialization procedure (mahr-soo-pee-ul-ih-ZAY-shun) may help. Your doctor places stitches on either side of a drainage incision to create a permanent opening less than 1/4 inch (about 6 millimeters) long. An inserted catheter may be placed to promote drainage for a few days after the procedure and help prevent recurrence.

Rarely, for persistent cysts that aren’t effectively treated by the above procedures, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the Bartholin’s gland. Surgical removal is usually performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. Surgical removal of the gland carries a higher risk of bleeding or complications after the procedure.

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