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What are Bartholin's Cysts and How are They Treated?

By Michele Blacksberg RN HERWriter
 
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Cysts can develop anywhere in the body. Unfortunately ladies, they can also occur in the vagina. On either side of the vaginal opening in the 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions lay our Bartholin glands.

Bartholin glands are pea-size glands responsible for providing vaginal lubricant. If these glands become plugged, a cyst can develop made up of secretions that can no longer escape. Small cysts are usually painless, do not cause symptoms and typically do not need any intervention.

However, larger cysts can be problematic, as they can become infected and swell to sizes as large as a golf ball. These infected Bartholin's cysts can turn into Bartholin's abscesses.

Bartholin's abscesses are painful, interfere with sitting, walking and having sex. A fever may even develop.

Doctors are not sure why Bartholin's cysts or abscesses occur but American Family Physician said that 2 percent of women of reproductive age develop them, more typically on one side. They are more common in white and black women then Hispanic women.

In postmenopausal women, Bartholin's cysts should be further evaluated for malignancy as the Bartholin glands usually shrink during menopause.

Treatment for Bartholin Cysts/Abscesses

Treatment depends on the symptoms a women has. Bartholin's cysts that are small and are not painful do not need treatment and can just be monitored by a gynecologist during yearly exams.

If a small Bartholin's cyst develops an infection, then sitz baths are usually recommended to be done several times a day for three to four days, noted the Mayoclinic.com. Fill a tub with a couple of inches of very warm water and soak for 10-15 minutes at a time.

A larger abscess or infected cyst needs surgical intervention. The doctor may perform this as a sterile procedure in the office. The area will be made numb with anesthetic and an incision will be made to drain the contents of the abscess.

A special catheter called a Word catheter is inserted to keeps the cyst space open. After the catheter is inserted through the incision, a small balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to keep it from falling out.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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