Surrounding the vagina is a set of pea-sized glands that help with its lubrication and keep your vagina moist. They are called Bartholin’s glands and the fluid these glands make travels to the vagina through ducts. However, if the glands get blocked due to some reason, fluid can flow back up into them forming a cyst. This is known as a Bartholin’s cyst.
What Leads To The Formation Of A Bartholin’s Cyst?
The main cause for the occurrence of Bartholin’s Cyst can be bad bacteria that tend to clog up these glands. Therefore, infections caused by E.coli or other microbes, or sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia can be the main basis of this cyst. It is said that every 2 out of 10 women get these at some point and that the cysts are quite common for women who are in their 20s.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bartholin’s Cyst?
When the fluid get’s accumulated in the gland due to injury or infection, the cyst formed may be small and you might not even notice it at first. Although, once the cyst becomes infected symptoms may include pain and discomfort. So much so that you might feel pain even when having sex or walking.
If the cyst is large, it can also make one side of your labia majora, or the folds of skin on the outer side of your vagina, hand lower than the other side. It can also cause fever and chills, extreme pain to the point where one finds it difficult to walk or sit, swelling in the infected area, and draining from the cyst.
How Can A Bartholin’s Cyst Be Diagnosed?
With a Bartholin’s cyst forming in the part of your glands that is heavily concealed with a lot of tissue, it is hard to diagnose it at home. Thus, only a doctor will be able to tell you if you have this cyst by doing a pelvic exam.
If you have drainage or the cyst is leaking through your vagina, they will take a sample of this secretion and look at it under a microscope to check for STIs or other possible vaginal infections. Additionally, if you are over 40, your doctors might carry out a biopsy to eliminate the possibility of vulvar cancer.
Treatment For Bartholin’s Cyst
The treatment for Bartholin’s cyst depends on the type of infection your pelvic exam has detected. Here’s how doctors can go about its treatment.
- If your test showed a positive result for an STI or any of the vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis, etc, your doctor will likely prescribe you certain antibiotics or topical medications to put on your skin.
- If you are under 40 and your cyst isn’t causing problems, a simple home remedy might also work for you to naturally remove the cyst and drain it. A simple sitz bath – or a procedure where you soak the lower half of your body in warm water to alleviate pressure or pain from the region, may work for you. To do this:
- Fill a tub with 3-4 inches of water to simply cover your vagina or the lower area of your body.
- Do this several times a day for at least a week and you will notice that the cyst will burst eventually and get drained on its own.
- If your Bartholin’s cyst is causing problems by turning into an abscess laden cyst, you need to a see doctor immediately. Here’s how they will treat you.
- Surgical Drainage: You may need a doctor to perform surgical drainage if the cyst is too large or quite infected. The doctor will place a catheter or a small rubber tube into your opening where it can stay in place for up to 6 weeks. The liquid will drain and you will feel instant relief once it’s gone. Medications may continue to post that to simply ensure that your cyst or abscess doesn’t resurface. Unfortunately, this treatment plan comes with side effects like bleeding, pain during intercourse, or scarring.
- Marsupialization: If your cyst is recurring, the doctor can simply cut the cyst open and stitch a skin around it to form a small pouch. This will let the fluid drain out completely and then pack the area with gauze to control the bleeding. Marsupialization takes less than an hour to get done and the doctors simply prescribe painkillers later on, but the cyst rarely reappears.
- Removing The Gland: Your doctor could suggest this choice in the event that the others haven't worked or you continue to get Bartholin's cyst and abscesses. This medical procedure requires about 60 minutes and you might have the option to return home a while later. Potential side effects include bleeding, swelling, bruising, and infection.
- Prevention of Bartholin’s cyst simply includes safe sex measures like using condoms to prevent an infection or a cyst from forming.
The occurrence of Bartholin’s cyst is quite unpredictable but embracing hygienic vaginal practices and keeping the area clean can prevent the chances of any infections. However, if you feel a painful lump near the opening of your vagina, we highly recommend consulting a doctor.