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A Bartholin’s cyst occurs when the opening of one of the Bartholin’s glands—located on either side of the vaginal opening and responsible for producing lubricant—becomes blocked, leading to a buildup of fluid and the formation of a cyst. Most of these cysts are painless and do not cause symptoms, but they can become large and cause discomfort. In some cases, the cyst can become infected, which can be painful and require urgent medical treatment.


The diagnosis of a Bartholin’s cyst is often made based on a physical examination. If there is suspicion of infection or an abscess, additional tests, such as culture samples of the secretion, may be undertaken to identify the present pathogens and determine the appropriate antibiotic. In rare cases, when there is concern for malignancy, a biopsy may be recommended.


The treatment for a Bartholin’s cyst depends on the size of the cyst, the presence of symptoms, and whether the cyst is infected. For small cysts that do not cause symptoms, no treatment may be necessary other than monitoring. In cases where the cyst causes discomfort or an infection develops, treatment may include several daily warm sitz baths, which can help drain the cyst and relieve symptoms. If an infection is present, antibiotics are prescribed. If conservative treatments do not provide relief, or if the cyst becomes too large or recurs, surgical intervention may be necessary. Procedures can include marsupialization, where a permanent opening is created to allow fluid to drain freely, or in rare cases, removal of the entire gland.