ID: 246
Category: Obstetrics and Gynecology
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 14 Jul 2017
updatedon: 22 May 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Jul 14, 2017
Updated May 22, 2023

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Bartholin's Cyst

Etymology and Pronunciation

Bartholin's (bar-THO-linz)
The term Bartholin's refers to the Bartholin's glands - two small glands located on each side of the vaginal opening

cyst (sist)
kustis (κυστις) - Greek for  "bladder" or "pouch".

History of Bartholin's Cyst

Bartholin's cyst was first described in the medical literature by 17th century Danish physician Caspar Bartholin. He was able to recognize the cysts as a swelling of the glands located near the opening of the vagina in women.

The discovery and diagnosis of these cysts were possible due to advancements in medical technology. For instance, the development of microscopy in the 19th century provided a way for medical professionals to better examine tissues and fluids from the affected area. This allowed for a more accurate diagnosis of Bartholin's cysts.

Additionally, the advent of ultrasound and MRI technologies in the 20th century made it possible to obtain detailed images of the cysts, further improving the ability to diagnose and study the condition.

Modern Understanding of Bartholin's Cyst

Bartholin's cyst is a common condition that affects women. It occurs in the Bartholin's glands located on either side of the vaginal opening. The cysts are usually painless but can cause discomfort or swelling. They usually go away on their own or with medical treatment, but sometimes, they may require surgery to remove them.

The Bartholin's glands role in the body is to produce mucus to keep the vagina moist and lubricated. They are two pea sized "compound alveolar" glands located near the opening of the vagina.

Symptoms of Bartholin's cysts may include a small lump or swelling on either side of the vaginal opening, discomfort or pain during intercourse, discomfort when walking or sitting, or redness and tenderness near the cyst.

Bartholin's cysts can be diagnosed through a physical exam by a doctor, who may recommend further tests or imaging to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment may involve warm compresses to reduce swelling, antibiotics to treat any infection, or surgery to drain or remove the cyst.

While Bartholin's cysts can be uncomfortable or concerning, they are usually not serious and can be effectively managed with proper medical care. It's important for women to speak with their doctor if they experience any symptoms or changes in their vaginal area, as timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications or discomfort.

Causes of Bartholin's Cyst

It occurs when the Bartholin's gland, located in the vaginal opening, becomes blocked and causes fluid accumulation. The exact causes of Bartholin's cyst are not fully understood, but some possible factors that can contribute to its development include:

- Infection: Bacterial infection is the most common cause of Bartholin's cyst. The bacteria that can cause infection include those that are responsible for causing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- Injury: Trauma or injury to the Bartholin's gland or the surrounding area can cause swelling and inflammation, leading to the formation of a cyst.
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormones, especially during menopause, can cause changes in the Bartholin's gland, leading to cyst formation.
- Poor hygiene: Poor hygiene practices such as not cleaning the genital area properly or wearing tight-fitting clothes can increase the risk of developing Bartholin's cyst.

Overall, the cause of Bartholin's cyst is multifactorial and can be influenced by various factors. If you suspect you have a Bartholin's cyst, it is important to see a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treatments for Bartholin's Cyst

- Home care: Simple home care measures such as warm compresses or sitz baths (sitz - is a German word for sitting. It is a therapeutic procedure in which a person sits in warm water up to their hips) can help relieve the pain and discomfort associated with small Bartholin's cysts. These measures can also help reduce the risk of infection.
- Antibiotics: If an infection is present, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat it.
- Incision and drainage: For larger or more painful cysts, your healthcare provider may need to make a small incision in the cyst and drain the fluid. This procedure is usually done with local anesthesia and may require stitches.
- Marsupialization: This is a surgical procedure in which a small incision is made in the cyst and a catheter is inserted to create a permanent opening. This allows any fluid to drain out and helps prevent future cysts from forming.

In most cases, Bartholin's cysts can be treated effectively with home care or medical treatments. However, in rare cases, surgery may be needed to remove the cyst completely. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms so that you can get the appropriate treatment.

Lifestyle Changes

While lifestyle changes alone may not cure a Bartholin's cyst, they can help manage symptoms and promote healing. Here are some lifestyle changes that may be beneficial:

- Warm Compresses: Applying warm compresses to the affected area can help alleviate pain and promote drainage. Soak a clean washcloth in warm water and gently apply it to the cyst for 10 to 15 minutes, a few times a day.
- Sitz Baths: Taking sitz baths can provide relief by keeping the area clean and reducing inflammation. Fill a shallow basin or bathtub with warm water and sit in it for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat a few times a day.
- Hygiene Practices: Maintain good hygiene by keeping the genital area clean. Use mild, fragrance-free soaps and avoid using harsh products that may irritate the area. After using the toilet, wipe from front to back to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Loose and Breathable Clothing: Wear loose-fitting underwear and clothing made from breathable fabrics, such as cotton. Avoid tight-fitting clothes that can increase friction and irritation in the affected area.
- Avoid Irritants: Avoid using perfumed products, douches, and harsh soaps in the genital area, as they can irritate the cyst and worsen symptoms.
- Sexual Activity: Refrain from sexual activity until the cyst has healed. Sexual intercourse can cause friction and discomfort, potentially exacerbating the condition.
- Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to promote circulation and overall health. Exercise can help boost your immune system, which may aid in faster healing.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help support your immune system and promote healing.
- Stress Management: Stress can affect your overall health and potentially weaken your immune system. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities you enjoy.


Redness of the vaginal area
Formation of a lump or mass in the vaginal area
Swelling of the vaginal area
Painful intercourse (sex)
Vaginal pain and soreness

Confirmation Tests

- Vaginal swab
- Gram stain

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