A Bartholin cyst, also known as a Bartholin gland cyst, is a common condition that affects women. This cyst develops when the Bartholin glands, which are located near the vaginal opening, become blocked. These glands are responsible for producing fluid that helps lubricate the vagina. When the fluid cannot escape, it accumulates and forms a cyst. Bartholin cysts can vary in size and may cause discomfort or pain. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. In this article, we will explore what causes bartholin cyst, symptoms, and treatment methods for Bartholin cysts.
Symptoms of a Bartholin’s cyst
A Bartholin cyst typically manifests as a painless, soft lump that does not generally pose any significant issues. However, when the cyst grows larger, it can become noticeable and uncomfortable. Activities such as walking, sitting, or engaging in sexual intercourse may cause discomfort and pain in the surrounding skin of the vagina (vulva).
In some cases, the cyst may affect the outer lips surrounding the vagina (labia majora), leading to noticeable swelling or an increase in size on one side.
When an infection occurs within the cyst, it can result in the development of a painful collection of pus known as an abscess in one of Bartholin’s glands. Signs indicating an abscess include redness, swelling, tenderness, and heat in the affected area. Additionally, it may cause the individual to experience a high body temperature.
What Causes Bartholin Cyst?
The Bartholin’s glands are two small glands located on either side of the vaginal entrance, just behind the lips. Normally, these glands are inconspicuous, typically not exceeding 1 cm (0.4 inches) in size.
Their primary function is to produce a lubricating fluid that aids in sexual intercourse. This fluid travels through tiny ducts and enters the vagina.
When these ducts become obstructed, they can fill with fluid and enlarge, resulting in the formation of a cyst.
The exact cause of duct blockage is often unknown, although it can sometimes be associated with sexually transmitted bacterial infections such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia, as well as other bacterial infections like Escherichia coli (E. coli).
How Bartholin cysts are Treated?
If there are no noticeable symptoms present, it is unlikely that treatment will be necessary.
In cases where the cyst causes pain, a healthcare provider may recommend simple self-care measures as a first step. These can include soaking the cyst in warm water multiple times a day for a duration of 3 or 4 days, as well as taking over-the-counter painkillers available from pharmacies or supermarkets.
If these self-care measures fail to provide relief, there are several treatment options available to address both pain and any accompanying infection. If deemed necessary, the cyst can be drained, often through a minor surgical procedure.
When to see a doctor?
It is advisable to contact your doctor if you have a painful lump near the vaginal opening that does not show improvement after practising self-care measures, such as using warm water for soaking (sitz bath), for a period of two or three days. In cases where the pain is severe, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor immediately.
Additionally, if you discover a new lump near the vaginal opening and you are above the age of 40, it is essential to promptly consult your doctor. While rare, such a lump may indicate a more serious underlying issue, including the possibility of cancer.
In conclusion, understanding what causes Bartholin cyst sheds light on this common condition. Factors such as blocked ducts, infections, or inflammation can contribute to the development of these cysts. It’s important to be aware of the potential causes and risk factors, as early recognition can lead to timely medical attention. If you suspect you have a Bartholin cyst or experience symptoms, consulting a healthcare professional is advised. They can provide accurate diagnosis, recommend appropriate treatment, and offer guidance on preventive measures. By staying informed about the causes and seeking prompt medical care, you’re taking proactive steps towards managing your health and well-being effectively.
Q1: What are the common symptoms of a Bartholin cyst?
Ans: Painful lump near the vaginal opening.
Q2: How can I relieve the discomfort of a Bartholin cyst?
Ans: Soaking in warm water and taking painkillers.
Q3: When should I seek medical attention for a Bartholin cyst?
Ans: If symptoms persist or worsen after self-care measures.
Q4: Can a Bartholin cyst be drained?
Ans: Yes, through minor surgical procedures if necessary.
Q5: Are Bartholin cysts associated with cancer?
Ans: Rarely, but consult a doctor if you have concerns.