A bartholin’s cyst, also called a bartholin duct cyst is a small fluid-filled sac just inside the opening of a woman’s vagina. The bartholin glands are two small organs under the skin in a woman’s genital area. They are on either side of the folds of skin that surround the vagina and urethra. Most of the time you can’t feel or see these glands. They make a small amount of fluid that moistens the outer genital area or vulva. This fluid comes out of two tiny tubes next to the opening of the vagina. The cyst occurs if a Bartholin duct gets blocked by fluid buildup in the gland. The blocked gland is called a bartholin gland cyst or bartholin duct cyst. These cyst ranges in sizes, they usually grow slowly. If the bartholin gland or duct gets infected, it’s called a bartholin gland abscess. The bartholin gland cysts are often small and painless. Some go away without treatment but some grow very large and can be noticeable and uncomfortable. You may feel pain in the skin surrounding the vagina when you walk, sit or move around, anytime you feel such pain in you vulva you will have to treat it.
About 1 in every 50 women will develop a bartholin cyst at some point. It usually affects sexually active women aged 20 to 30. Bartholin cyst doesn’t usually affect children because the bartholin glands don’t start functioning until puberty. The cyst is also uncommon after the menopause as this usually causes the bartholin gland to shrink.
There are no known symptoms for the cyst especially if it is small. But a large or infected cyst can cause symptoms. The symptoms of a cyst that is not infected can be a painless lump in the vulva area, redness or swelling in the vulva area. Discomfort when you walk, sit or have sex. Symptoms of an infected cyst include pain that gets worse and makes it hard to walk, sit or move around, fever and chills. Swelling in the vulva area. Unless it is causing symptoms, you may not know you have one. It is also not known why the ducts become blocked, but some cases are linked to sexually transmitted bacteria or infections such as gonorrhea.
There is no definitive way to prevent a Bartholin’s cyst. But practices such as safe sex, condom use and good hygiene will help keep bacteria out of the area, which can help reduce your chances of developing one. It is also important to find out if you have an STD, and seek treatment if you do. Maintaining a healthy urinary tract may help prevent Bartholin’s cysts and abscesses from developing. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and try to avoid waiting a long time to go to the bathroom.
A cyst can be diagnosed based on signs of infection. If you think you have a cyst, see your doctor or you can try a sitz baths at home which means sitting in a tub with 2 to 3 inches of warm water. It may take many days of sitz baths to treat the abscess or cyst. A sitz bath can help ease your pain and discomfort. Try sitz bath for 3 or 4 times in a day for at least 10 to 15 minutes. But mind you, the condition is unlikely to go away without medical treatment. It’s especially important to seek medical care if you have a fever or if the pain starts interfering with your daily activities.
Once the abscess has drained, recovery time is minimal. Most women feel better within 24 hours after a bartholin’s cyst or abscess has drained. If your cyst or abscess needs surgical removal, your recovery time will vary depending on the details of your procedure. It’s important to let any incision heal completely, and to take any antibiotics prescribed to you by your doctor.
It is estimated that a Bartholin’s cyst will return at a later stage in about one in every five women treated for the condition.
Any time you feel any soft, painless lump around your vaginal seek medical advice for immediate diagnosis, treatment and solution.
By: Pupwaya Timothy Dibal