Our body consists of multiple glands and ducts that secrete fluids. A cyst is formed when these ducts get blocked leading to fluid obstruction. Bartholin Cyst usually results due to obstruction of Bartholin glands.
In this article, we will discuss the Bartholin cyst and discuss some of its causes, symptoms along with home remedy tips.
What are Bartholin Cysts?
A cyst is an abnormal non-cancerous growth covered in a sac containing either fluids, gaseous or semi-solid material. The cysts may vary in shape or size and are usually associated with pain.
Bartholin’s glands are the glands located on either side of the vaginal wall. The Bartholin glands allow secretions of fluids to keep the vagina moist. Obstruction in the ducts of these glands results in the formation of swelling or cysts.
When the cyst gets infected, it can result in the formation of Bartholin abscess. It is also known as a vaginal cyst. It is usually a benign (non-cancerous) condition. A full-grown cyst may require marsupialization or removal of glands.
What are the causes of Bartholin Cysts?
Doctors believe that the main reason for Bartholin cysts is due to the obstruction of Bartholin glands. The exact mechanism of obstruction is unknown but can result from any injury to the glands or chronic infections such as sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
The vaginal cysts may get infected and form an abscess. Some common bacteria responsible for forming infected cysts are Escherichia Coli, N. Gonorrhoeae, chlamydia etc.
What are the symptoms of Bartholin Cysts?
The sign and symptoms depend on the shape and size of the cysts. It may be initially small and can later increase in size (size of a golf ball). At first, you might feel a slightly enlarged swelling or a lump around the vaginal opening. It can be somewhat tender to touch but is usually painless. Later cysts may get infected and painful.
On examination, there is usually:
● Tender and painful mass near vaginal pillars
● High-grade fever
● General discomfort
● Inability to sit
What are the complications of Bartholin Cysts?
One of the most common complications of Bartholin cysts is its recurrence. It can frequently recur even after adequate treatment. The full-grown cyst leads to the formation of Bartholin’s
abscess. The cyst’s infected cells may enter the bloodstream causing distant infections to other organs that can result in septicemia or Shock.
What precautions can people take to prevent Bartholin Cysts?
There are no definite ways to prevent Bartholin cysts. However, maintaining good personal hygiene and safe sexual practices using adequate precautionary methods may reduce the chances of infection.
It is also necessary to go for routine health checks and start early treatment for STIs. Drinking plenty of fluids such as Cranberry juice allows good urinary tract health and prevents UTIs.
When to See Your Doctor?
See your doctor/physician for Bartholin Cysts if your swelling isn’t reducing in size even after 2-3 days of self-care, such as applying hot compression over the area, having a Sitz bath, etc.
See your doctor immediately if you have an fever (>100 degrees of Fahrenheit), excessive discomfort, and a feeling of severe pain in and around the infected site. In a female above 40 years of age, these similar symptoms can also represent vulvar carcinomas, a precancerous state.
How are Bartholin Cysts diagnosed and treated?
Bartholin’s cysts are investigated as follows:
● Performing a pelvic exam
● Taking sample of vaginal secretions or secretion from the cervix to test for a sexually transmitted infection
● Biopsy to check for cancerous cells if you are post-menopausal or over 40
1. Surgical drainage: You may require surgery to drain a cyst that is infected or very large
2. Antibiotics: Your physician may prescribe an antibiotic medication if your cyst is found to be infected or if testing shows that you have a sexually transmitted infection.
3. Marsupialization: If cysts recur or become bother, a marsupialization procedure can help. Your treating doctor places stitches on either side of a drainage cut to create a permanent small opening of about 6-millimeter (less than 1/4-inch). Post-procedure, a catheter may be placed to promote drainage for a few days and to help prevent recurrence.
Although less common, for persistent cysts that are not effectively treated by the above procedures, your treating doctor may recommend surgical procedure to remove the Bartholin’s gland.
What are some best home remedies to treat Bartholin cysts?
There are a few ways to treat Bartholin cysts at home before visiting a hospital.
Notice any abnormal growth or changes that have occurred recently and never try to squeeze or pop out any cysts as these can lead to severe complications.
● Warm Sitz bath
Either sit on a tub or have a Sitz bath with warm water. Having a Sitz bath at least up to 4 times a day for at least 15 minutes helps in reducing the swelling, relieves pain, and reduces the chances of spreading the infection. You can also add a few drops of betadine solution into your hot water, which helps control the spread of the infection.
● Taking mild pain-killers
Having pain killers for mild pain can sometimes be beneficial at the early stages of the condition. Medications such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Acetaminophen, etc. may reduce fever, pain, and discomfort. Drink plenty of fluids and perform cold sponging on your forehead when your body temperature is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
● Warm compression over the site
Take a towel and dip it in hot water. Applying a mild pressure over the site 3-4 times a day can reduce the swelling and pain. Follow these steps for 3-4 days regularly.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the fastest way to get rid of a Bartholin cyst?
Ans. The fastest way to get rid of Bartholin cysts is to first, maintain good personal hygiene. Having a Sitz bath regularly at least for 4-5 days in warm-hot water multiple times a day can reduce the swelling and spread of infection. Have mild pain killers and perform cold sponging over your forehead to reduce fever. Do not try to squeeze the cyst.
2. How long does a Bartholin cyst last?
Ans. Bartholin cyst may vary in shape and size. It can increase from pea size to the size of a golf ball. Some Bartholin cysts can last up to a week to months until it ruptures and breaks open, allowing drainage of the abscess and then heals independently. If the cust gets infected , the swelling or the lump may increase, which can be severely painful.
3. Is Bartholin cyst an STD?
Ans. Bartholin cysts are not Sexually Transmitted diseases, but the cyst formation can result from some of these infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, etc. These infections can lead to obstruction of the glands resulting in the formation of the Bartholin abscess.
4. Can you get a Bartholin cyst without being sexually active?
Ans. Yes, the Bartholin cyst results in obstruction of the ducts of Bartholin glands and can result from various other causes such as infection, injuries, etc. Although the exact
cause of obstruction of ducts is unknown, you can still get the Bartholin cyst without being sexually active.