The Bartholin glands are located on each side of the vaginal opening. They make a small amount of lubricating fluid. If skin grows over the opening of one of the glands, or if it becomes infected, fluid can back up, causing a round swelling called a cyst. These cysts can range from tiny to golf ball-sized, and they may be tender.
Your daughter’s doctor can diagnose a Bartholin gland cyst based on her symptoms and visual inspection.
If the cyst becomes infected, this can cause significant swelling and pain with need for drainage in the office or operating room. Sometimes, an infected cyst may drain on its own and resolve with local supportive care.
For mild, non-infected Bartholin gland cysts, your daughter’s doctor may prescribe a few days of sitz baths – during which your daughter will sit in a few inches of warm water several times a day. This often allows the cyst to rupture and drain with minimal discomfort.
If her cyst is large or infected, the doctor can make a small incision to drain the fluid or insert a tube that allows fluid to drain out for several days. Your daughter will receive antibiotics if she has an infection.
The gland opening becomes blocked and this causes a cyst to form.
There is no way to prevent these cysts; however, if you notice a small cyst forming – you can try the sitz bath method.
It is possible for Bartholin gland cysts to come back after treatment, often years later. Cysts can be treated again, and the Bartholin glands can be removed completely if cysts recur often.