Bartholin's Cyst - Symptoms And Treatment

What is Bartholin’s Cyst?

Bartholin’s cyst is a swelling buildup of fluid in the Bartholin’s glands. The Bartholin’s glands are found on both sides of the vaginal opening. They secrete a fluid that helps lubricates the vagina, including preventing vagina dryness. When the opening of the glands are blocked, the fluid that is usually secreted by the glands is backed up into the glands and form cysts (the cysts could be small or large). This backup also prevents lubrication of the vagina, which leads to a dry vagina.

What are the symptoms of Bartholin’s Cyst?

Here are signs and symptoms of Bartholin’s Cyst:

  • Painful sexual intercourse (Dyspareunia)
  • Vagina bleeding from vagina tear (as a result of the dryness of the vagina)
  • Pain/discomfort while walking
  • Swelling on one side of the vagina
  • Discomfort/pain while sitting
  • Fever (when it becomes infectious)

What causes Bartholin’s cyst?

The cause of cyst formation in the Bartholin’s gland is usually unknown. There is no specific cause, but a bacterial infection, an injury to the gland, or a mucus plug can cause blockage of the glands. The infectious origin is usually as a result of sexually transmitted infection.

How is Bartholin’s cyst diagnosed?

  • Visible inspection of the cyst by a physician is enough to make a diagnosis
  • A pelvic exam is carried out to check the health of other organs. 
  • In women who are over and above 40 years, a biopsy is usually recommended to rule out cancer.

How is Bartholin’s cyst treated?

Some of Bartholin’s cyst may go away without treatment while some require treating. 

A small cyst is treated with:

  • Sitz baths: sitting in a tub filled with warm water several times a day for a period of 3 – 4 days allow the cyst to rupture and drain with little pain or discomfort.

A large cyst is treated with the following: 

  • Surgical drainage of the cyst: During this procedure, the doctor makes a small incision and allows it to drain, then he or she will put a small rubber tube (known as a catheter) in the incision. The catheter stays in place for a maximum of 6 weeks. This catheter allows the fluid to drain out completely. While the catheter is in, you can resume your everyday activity. It is advice-able to stay off sex for the main time to prevent any disruption of the catheter or prevent any possible infection that could complicate the situation.
  • Marsupialization: in this procedure, a small cut in the cyst is done to drain the fluid then the doctor places stitches on each side of the cyst to create a small opening where a catheter may be inserted to allow complete drainage of the cyst within a couple of days. The patient may have a light discharge for a few weeks. Panty liners can be used to take care of this discharge.
  • Surgical or laser removal of the Bartholin’s gland: this procedure is recommended in cases of recurrent large cyst formation. This prevents the formation of new cysts.

Other treated of Bartholin’s cyst include: 

  1. Pain killers: ibuprofen is prescribed to relieve pain.
  2. Antibiotics: is prescribed in cases of abscess formation (due to infectious involvement).
  3. Try to apply cotton wool heated with hot water in the affected area.

Complications Of Bartholin’s Cyst include:

  • An infected cyst (abscess formation).
  • Recurrence of cyst is a very common problem.

Final word

Talk to your physician if you have any painful bump near the opening of your vagina that doesn’t get better after two to three days of personal self-care.