Bartholin Cysts: Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment
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Bartholin Cysts: Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Bartholin cysts are usually harmless and will disappear on their own but if they persist they may have to be drained, and antibiotics may be proscribed.

Bartholin cysts

Bartholin cysts appear on the labia or outer region of the vagina. Although they might seem scary because of their location, they are usually harmless. However, to make sure it is a Bartholin cyst and not herpes or another venereal disease, it is important to see a doctor if the cyst does not go away in a few days.

How to prepare for the doctor's appointment

Write down all the symptoms you can think of even if you are not sure they are related.

Make a list of all medications you are taking including the birth control pill and over the counter drugs, and vitamins.

Take a notepad with you to write down important information your doctor will give you.

Ask your doctor questions such as:

  • What causes these cysts?
  • How can I prevent them?
  • What is the treatment?
  • Are there any home remedies I can try?
  • Do you have any brochures or information I can take home with me?
  • If you don't understand something ask your doctor to explain, don't be shy, or pretend you understand what he is telling you, if you really don't.

In turn your doctor may ask some question such as:

  • How long have you had the symptoms and how severe are they?
  • Are you experiencing painful intercourse, or is there any discomfort when you go about your daily activities, sitting, standing, exercising etc.
  • Does anything make your symptoms better or worse?

Diagnosis for Bartholin cysts

  • Taking a medical history
  • Performing a pelvic examination
  • Pap smear
  • Biopsy of the tissue to test for cancer when the woman is postmenopausal or over forty years of age.
  • If cancer is suspected your doctor may refer you to a gynecologist specializing in cancer of the female reproduction system.

Treatment for Bartholin cysts

Most of the time there is no treatment necessary as the cyst will go away on its own, but if the cyst is big or infected different treatments may be required:

Sitz bath

Sitting in a warm bath with a few inches of water three or four times a day can cause the cyst to rupture and drain on its own.

Surgical drainage

This can be done in the doctor's office with a local anesthetic or in a hospital under sedation. What happens is that a tube called a catheter is inserted into the cyst and remains in place to keep the puncture hole open for about six weeks, so that all the fluid will drain out. The catheter can then be taken out or sometimes it falls out on its own.


The doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have a sexually transmitted disease, or if the cyst is infected. However, drainage is the preferred method if there is no SID and the cyst is just infected.


First the cyst is drained in the usual fashion and then the doctor would add permanent stitches at each end of the incision to keep the opening created by the drainage tube (catheter). This procedure is done when these cysts continue to reoccur. Marsupialization can be done in the doctor's office, but is most often done in the hospital under sedation.

It can happen that after all of these procedures are performed and the problem persists, the doctor then will opt to surgically remove the cyst.

Laser treatment

Some doctors will remove the cyst by laser treatment, however, this procedure is not widely used and is more expensive.

After surgery

You may want to take sitz baths to help the wound to heal. You can resume having sex as long as there is no discomfort.


Of course you want to keep the area clean, and practice safe sex. However, there is no guaranteed absolute prevention for Bartholin cysts.


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Comments (3)

Detailed and good discussion here, Carol. Fb liked.

Thanks for the wonderful information.

Excellent information !