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.
Symptoms of a Bartholin gland cyst include:
Your daughter’s doctor can diagnose a Bartholin gland cyst based on her symptoms and visual inspection.
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 weeks. Your daughter will receive antibiotics if she has an infection.
Swelling, injury to the skin, or infection can block the opening to a gland and cause a cyst to form.
If your daughter has a small, non-infected cyst, your doctor may advise soaking several times a day in a warm tub. If the cyst is large or infected, your daughter’s doctor may drain it and prescribe antibiotics.
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.