A Bartholin gland cyst is a fluid sac in the vagina entrance. If it becomes infected, it is called an abscess.
Bartholin glands make fluid that keeps the vagina moist. The glands can become blocked and cause a backup of fluid. This fluid creates the cyst.
Bacteria or viruses can get into the trapped fluid. They can grow and cause an infection.
Things that raise the risk of Bartholin gland cyst are:
Bartholin gland cysts do not always cause symptoms. Those that do may cause:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis may be based on the exam.
The doctor may need to rule out other conditions. This may include testing fluids or tissue from the cyst. Sometimes imaging is done to look at the cyst.
Small cysts without symptoms may not need treatment. Cysts that are causing problems may be treated at home with:
Procedures can help drain cysts that are large or cause problems. Options are:
Antibiotics may be needed if there is an infection caused by bacteria.
There are no known guidelines to prevent a Bartholin gland cyst.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Bartholin gland cyst and abscess. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bartholin-gland-cyst-and-abscess . Accessed July 29, 2021.
Bartholin’s cyst. NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bartholins-cyst/ . Accessed July 29, 2021.
Bartholin’s gland cyst. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/bartholins-gland-cyst/. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Omole F, Kelsey RC,et al. Bartholin duct cyst and gland abscess: office management. Am Fam Physician. 2019;99(12):760-766.
Last reviewed July 2021 by Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD Last Updated: 7/29/2021