Experts believe that the cause of a Bartholin's cyst is a backup of fluid. Fluid may accumulate when the opening of the gland (duct) becomes obstructed, perhaps caused by infection or injury. Things like an infection, thick mucus, or swelling can block a Bartholin gland duct and cause a cyst. The cyst can get bigger after sex, because the glands make more fluid during sex.
Infected Bartholin cysts are sometimes caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You can lower your risk of STIs by using a condom when you have sex.
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The Bartholin glands are two small organs under the skin in a woman's genital area. They are on either side of the folds of skin (labia) that surround the vagina and urethra. Most of the time, you can't feel or see these glands. it can cause a painful collection of pus (abscess) to develop in 1 of the Bartholin's glands.
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Your doctor may suggest you start with home treatment. If your cyst is infected, however, they may recommend:
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If the cyst is infected, it may break open and start to heal on its own after 3 to 4 days. But if the cyst is painful, your doctor may drain it. You may also need to take antibiotics to treat the infection.
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If a Bartholin’s abscess worsens and goes untreated, the infection could spread to other organs in your body. The infection may enter your bloodstream, a condition called septicemia. This condition is dangerous because the infection can be carried throughout your whole body.
If you have a fever over 103ºF, it’s important to seek medical attention. You should also seek medical help if the abscess ruptures abruptly, or if the pain doesn’t subside.
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It can stay in place for up to 6 weeks. You'll feel better right away after the fluid has been drained. But you may need to take oral pain medication for several days afterwards. If the cyst is infected, it may break open and start to heal on its own after 3 to 4 days. Keep in mind that a Bartholin's cyst or abscess may come back and need treatment again.
A distinct mass (lump) on either side of the opening to the vagina can be the sign of a Bartholin gland carcinoma. More often, however, a lump in this area is from a Bartholin gland cyst, which is much more common (and is not a cancer).
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To help your wound heal and reduce the risk of infection after surgery, you may be advised to avoid:
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The Bartholin's glands are located on each side of the vaginal opening. These glands secrete fluid that helps lubricate the vagina. Sometimes the openings of these glands become obstructed, causing fluid to back up into the gland. The result is relatively painless swelling called a Bartholin's cyst. If the fluid within the cyst becomes infected, you may develop a collection of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue (abscess). A cyst is a sac filled with liquid or semisolid material that forms under the skin or somewhere inside the body.
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