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Women's Health

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Bartholin Gland Cyst - Topic Overview

How are Bartholin gland cysts diagnosed?

You may find a Bartholin gland cyst on your own, or your doctor may notice it during a physical exam. Unless it is causing symptoms, you may not know you have one.

An abscess is diagnosed based on signs of infection, such as fever or swelling, and pain in the vulva area.

In some cases, especially if you are older, your doctor may remove the cyst to make sure that it isn't cancer or another problem.

How are they treated?

Some Bartholin gland cysts go away without treatment. You can take a nonprescription pain medicine such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin, for example) to relieve pain. To help healing, soak the area in a shallow, warm bath, or a sitz bath. Don't have sex while a Bartholin cyst is healing.

If the cyst is infected, it may break open and start to heal on its own after 3 to 4 days. But if the cyst is painful, your doctor may drain it. You may also need to take antibiotics to treat the infection.

To keep the cyst from closing and filling up again, your doctor may put a small drainage tube with a small balloon at one end inside the cyst. The balloon is inflated inside the cyst to keep the cyst open. After the gland has healed, the tube and balloon are removed.

Sometimes a carbon dioxide laser or silver nitrate is used to prevent a cyst from growing back. For severe cysts that keep coming back, you may have surgery to remove the Bartholin gland and duct.

There is a procedure called marsupialization in which a pouch is created by making a cut over the cyst and stitching the sides together. This allows the cyst to drain.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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