Illustration shows the location of a Bartholin’s cyst
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Bartholin’s glands (BAHR-toe-linz) are located on either side of the vaginal opening. These glands secrete fluid that lubricates the vagina.

Sometimes the openings in these glands become blocked, causing fluid to flow back into the gland. The result is a relatively painless swelling called a Bartholin’s cyst. If the fluid in the cyst becomes infected, you may develop a collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue (abscess).

Bartholin’s cyst or abscess is common. Treatment for a Bartholin’s cyst depends on the size of the cyst, the pain in the cyst, and the infection of the cyst.

Sometimes home treatment is enough. In other cases, surgical drainage of the Bartholin’s cyst is required. In the event of infection, antibiotics can be helpful to treat the infected Bartholin’s cyst.

If you have a small, uninfected Bartholin’s cyst, you may not notice it. As the cyst grows, you may feel a lump or lump near your vaginal opening. Although a cyst is usually painless, it can be tender.

Complete infection of a Bartholin’s cyst can develop within a few days. If the cyst becomes infected, the following can occur:

A tender and painful lump near the vaginal opening
Discomfort when walking or sitting
Painful intercourse

The reasons
Experts believe that the cause of a Bartholin’s cyst is fluid retention. Fluid can build up if the opening to the gland (duct) becomes blocked, possibly caused by an infection or injury.

A Bartholin’s cyst can become infected and form an abscess. A number of bacteria can cause infections, including Escherichia coli (E. coli) and bacteria that cause sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

A Bartholin’s cyst or abscess can come back and need to be treated again.

There is no way to prevent a Bartholin’s cyst. However, safe sex practices – especially condom use – and good hygiene habits can help prevent a cyst from infecting and an abscess from forming.

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