Bartholin's Cyst and Abscess

The two Bartholin 's glands lie next to the entrance to the vagina . They put a small amount of mucus -like fluid . Inflammation of a fluid-filled ( a cyst ) is a Bartholin 's gland fluid drains sometimes develops from a blocked duct . Sometimes a gland , then a collection of pus ( an abscess ) may develop in , which is infected . Antibiotic medicines can cause infection or abscess healing . A Bartholin 's cyst or abscess is a small operation, the most common treatment.

Bartholin's glands are a pair of small glands that are just next to the lower part of the entrance to the vagina. Each gland is about the size of a pea. Unless diseased or infected, you cannot normally see or feel these glands, as they are within the soft tissues (labia) next to the entrance to the vagina.
Female genitals
Each gland makes a small amount of mucus-like fluid. The fluid from each gland drains down a short tube (duct) called the Bartholin's gland duct. Each duct is about 2 cm long and comes out towards the lower part of the entrance to the vagina. The fluid helps to keep the entrance to the vagina moist.
Bartholin's glands are named after Thomas Bartholin, the doctor who first described them in the 18th century. Bartholin's glands are sometimes called vestibular glands.

Bartholin's abscess

An abscess is a collection of pus that can occur with an infection. An abscess can occur in any part of the body, and sometimes occurs in a Bartholin's gland. Sometimes an abscess develops from a Bartholin's cyst that becomes infected. Sometimes the gland itself becomes infected which gets worse and forms into an abscess. Within a few days, the abscess can become the size of a hen's egg, sometimes larger, and is usually very painful.
Many types of germs (bacteria) can infect a Bartholin's cyst or gland to cause an abscess. Most are the common germs that cause skin or urine infections, such as Staphylococcus spp. and Escherichia coli. So, any woman can develop a Bartholin's abscess. Some cases are due to sexually transmitted germs such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

Bartholin's gland cancer

This is a very rare cancer (about 1 in a million chance of a woman having it) and is very unlikely in women aged under 40. However, if there is any doubt about the cause of the swelling, a small sample of tissue (biopsy) can be checked.

Bartholin's cyst

If the tube (duct) that drains the fluid becomes blocked then a fluid-filled swelling (cyst) develops. The size of a cyst can vary from small and pea-like to the size of a golf ball, or even bigger in some cases. The cyst may remain the same size or may slowly become bigger. The reason why a Bartholin's duct may become blocked and lead to a cyst is not clear.
In most cases, a Bartholin's fluid-filled swelling (cyst) or collection of pus (abscess) does not happen again (recur) after treatment with one of the operations described above, or if antibiotics alone cured the problem. However, they do recur in some cases when treatment needs to be repeated.
If you have a Bartholin's gland infection or abscess, a swab - a small ball of cotton wool on the end of a thin stick, used to take a sample - of the area or a sample of pus is usually sent to the laboratory to identify which germ (bacterium) caused the infection. If a sexually transmitted germ is the cause of the infection then further screening for other sexually transmitted infections for yourself and your partner will usually be advised.
Not usually. Most occur 'out of the blue' for no apparent reason. Some Bartholin's abscesses are due to sexually transmitted infections, and so using a condom when having sex may prevent some cases.