Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Scoop On: Bartholin Cysts

Dr. Kate,

Can you tell me about Bartholin cysts? I found a pea-sized lump under the skin near the entrance to my vagina. It was a little movable and was very, very tender to the touch. It later burst, releasing a bit of blood and leaving the area very sore. The next day you could still feel a smaller, less round pea shape, but it wasn't as tender.

Thank you,
Cyst Boom Ow!

Dear CBO,

The Bartholin's glands are among the many glands that line the entrance to the vagina. They normally secrete fluid that makes up part of your healthy vaginal discharge. But just like the pores on your face, these glands can become blocked, forming a cyst (kind of like vulvar acne). The cyst may be painless, but if it becomes infected, it can be exquisitely tender. These cysts can stay small like yours, but can grow to be giant. I had a patient with a Bartholin cyst that was as big as a baseball--I'm not sure how she managed to walk into my office.

Treatment of a Bartholin's cyst depends on the size and how much it bothers you. A small cyst that's painless will likely resolve on its own with warm compresses to release the blockage. If it becomes large, painful or infected, an incision is made into the cyst and a tiny catheter (called a Word catheter) is placed to allow the fluid to drain. Your gyno will also prescribe antibiotics if she suspects infection. In the worst cases, where the cyst doesn't resolve or recurs multiple times, the entire cyst can be removed during a surgical procedure. There's nothing you can do to prevent Bartholin's cysts, but they don't have any long-term consequences.

Best of health,
Dr. Kate

Photo credit: km6xo

No comments: