Bartholin's cyst: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:A Bartholin's cyst is a fluid-filled swelling of a Bartholin's gland. Bartholin's glands are two small glands on each side of the opening of the vagina (birth canal). These glands are called Bartholin's glands. They each have a small duct (tube) that opens to the outside. The glands produce a fluid that helps protect the tissues around the vagina and provides lubrication during sexual intercourse. Normally these glands cannot be felt or seen.A Bartholin's cyst develops when the duct exiting the Bartholin's gland becomes blocked. The fluid produced by the gland then accumulates, causing the gland to swell and form a cyst. An abscess occurs when a cyst becomes infected.Bartholin's abscesses can be caused by any of a number of bacteria. These include bacterial organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia and gonorrhea as well as bacteria normally found in the intestinal tract, such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli). It is common for these abscesses to involve more than one type of organism.According to estimates, around 2% of women will develop a Bartholin's cyst. The condition usually affects sexually active women who are 20 to 30 years old. The Bartholin's glands do not start functioning until puberty, so Bartholin's cysts do not usually affect children.Symptoms:If Bartholin's cyst remains small and no infection occurs, you may not notice it. If it grows, you might feel the presence of a lump or mass near your vaginal opening. Although a cyst is usually painless, it can be tender.If the cyst becomes infected — a full-blown infection can occur in a matter of days — you may experience these signs and symptoms:A tender or painful lump near the vaginal opening.
Discomfort while walking or sitting.
Pain during intercourse.
A cyst or abscess typically occurs on only one side of the vaginal opening.
Diagnosis:Your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and will see a swollen area at the opening of thevagina. The swelling will be diagnosed as a cyst if it is not painful. If it is painful and infected, it is called aBartholin's gland abscess.Sometimes cultures are taken to determine the type of bacteria causing the infection and to check for sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. These cultures simply involve taking a swab either from the material drained from the abscess or from another area such as the cervix. Results of these tests are not available until about 48 hours later, so they do not change the immediate treatment. However, they may indicate a need for additional treatment with antibiotics.Treatment:Sometimes Bartholin's cyst will go away if you put warm, moist cloths (compresses) on it or sit in warm baths. The moist heat can help unblock the opening so that the fluid can drain out. Nonprescription medicine such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may help relieve the pain.Your health care provider may make a small cut over the gland, making an opening so fluid can drain out from the cyst. Your provider may then sew the opening in a way that leaves it open but helps prevent it from tearing and getting bigger. This is usually done with a local anesthetic so that you don't feel pain during the procedure. This treatment is called marsupialization. Your health care provider may make a tiny cut in the cyst and insert a catheter (a very small tube) into the cyst for a few weeks. The catheter helps form a passageway for fluid produced by the gland. Ask your health care provider about any precautions you should take while the catheter is in place. Your provider will remove the catheter in 4 to 6 weeks. The passageway should stay open after the catheter is removed, preventing another cyst.A cyst may become infected. It may form an abscess and become very painful. If a cyst is infected, your health care provider may drain it and prescribe an antibiotic. Sometimes the whole gland needs to be surgically removed, especially if the cyst often comes back. The Bartholin's gland can be removed without damage to that area of the vaginal opening. You can have sexual intercourse without the gland.NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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