Female Health: Bartholin Abscess
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Female Health: Bartholin Abscess

In the last article we discussed Bartholin cysts and we also touched on Bartholin abscesses. This article will go more into depth on the topic of a Bartholin abscess and how it is treated. Women’s health is very important. Oftentimes, women are embarrassed to tell their physicians about health issues related to their genitals.

What is a Bartholin abscess?

Bartholin abscesses are Bartholin cysts that have become infected.  As discussed in a previous article, a Bartholin cyst is a clogged Bartholin gland. Thus, the clogged gland can develop into a painful abscess.

What are the symptoms of a Bartholin abscess?

The symptoms of a Bartholin abscess include tenderness in the vaginal area. I may be extremely painful to engage in sexual intercourse. Sitting and walking may also be painful for the woman with a Bartholin abscess. Usually there is only one abscess at a time; thus, the woman will feel pain on one side of her vaginal area. She may also have an elevated temperature due to the infection.

When should you see a doctor for a Bartholin’s abscess?

If you have a painful lump around your vaginal opening and it has not responded to sitting in a warm tub of water or sitz bath, or warm moist compresses, you should contact your doctor to be examined and treated. The doctor will make a diagnosis by conducting a physical examination of the affected area.

The doctor may also take a culture and sensitivity test of the drainage from the abscess or even possibly from the cervix if the doctor suspects the infection might be caused from an STD. The culture isn’t always necessary, but some doctors may take one. However, the test results will not be ready for about 48 hours. Your doctor may go ahead and order an antibiotic, if it is presumed necessary.

How are Bartholin abscesses treated?

If it is just a small abscess, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics, and order you to sit in a tub of warm water for about 30 minutes at a time to relieve the pain and discomfort. If you have recurrent cysts and abscesses, your doctor may decide to treat your Bartholin abscess with a surgical procedure called a marsupialization.

What is a marsupialization procedure for a Bartholin abscess?

If the abscess requires draining, the doctor will do a surgical procedure which is called a marsupialization.  This procedure is an incision made into the cyst or abscess to drain it. The cyst is drained, and the flaps of the cyst are sutured to the surrounding tissue so that the abscess or cyst cannot reform and refill with fluid or infectious organisms.  This procedure can be done in your doctor’s office. Almost every doctor has a treatment room for office surgeries.

The doctor will inject the area with a numbing medicine and conduct the surgery. When finished, the doctor may also pack the area with medicated gauze packing, if necessary. The packing will be removed within 24 to 48 hours and the area should heal without problems within a few days.





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