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The Bartholin Gland

Location of bartholin gland —  When the gland is irritated, it can swell to well over 5X its size, making it nearly impossible to sit down.

Location of bartholin gland — When the gland is irritated, it can swell to well over 5X its size, making it nearly impossible to sit down.

So what is a Bartholin gland anyhow? Most women do not even know that this gland exists. This is mainly because it remains silent and typically does not cause any problems.

The Bartholin glands (also known as the greater vestibular glands), are located just a smidge below and to the left and right of the vaginal opening in women. They are very small and not visible to the naked eye, however they may be detected as a divot on the skin's surface.

Males have a similar gland. However it is located deeper in the perineal pouch and is called a bulbourethral gland. The Bartholin glands' main function under normal circumstances is to secrete mucus to aid in vaginal lubrication.

Before orgasm, the glands will typically excrete 1-2 drops of mucus to lubricate the vaginal opening, while interior lubrication occurs deeper within the vagina.

As stated before, most women go their entire lives without ever realizing that there are two little glands in that area. However, the Bartholin gland can rear its ugly face and make its presence well known.

Although unusual, it can become irritated or infected, causing extreme swelling and discomfort. Typically if the gland(s) do become inflamed and form a cyst, it is usually not painful, only uncomfortable and annoying.

Sometimes, however, a cyst can lead to infection and the area will become even more inflamed. When this happens, the surrounding areas will be tender, warm and may throb if any firm pressure is applied. It can even be almost impossible for one to sit down.

When this happens, the gland is then referred to as a Bartholin cyst that has abscessed.

If you have ever had the unfortunate chance to experience one of these buggers, then you know all too well just how bothersome and debilitating they can be. In most cases, only one gland is affected at a time. For some unknown reason, the infection can bounce back and forth between glands. (For example, the left one is abscessed then heals and a little while later the right one forms a cyst and abscesses.)

Bartholin cysts form when for some reason the duct exiting the gland become blocked, causing fluid to accumulate. The gland swells, forming a cyst. A Bartholin cyst can lead to an abscess when it becomes infected.

An infection can occur for multiple reasons such as: bacterial infections, sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, and even some bacteria found in the intestines like e. coli.

  • Swelling of labia and surrounding tissue
  • Not very much pain associated with it (unless it is large)
  • Significant pain near labia and vaginal opening
  • Tender to the touch
  • Swollen
  • Reddish skin covering affected area
  • Inability to find any comfy spot

If at any point you feel that the gland is continuing to swell and grow, and it shows no sign of improvement within 3-4 days, then it’s time to go see your doctor or gynecologist.

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If a lump develops and begins to be painful, this is indicative of an abscess and chances are it will not go away on its own. It is an infection, which will get worse without medical intervention. The lump needs to be drained.

Especially if you are experiencing other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, abnormally colored vaginal discharge or abdominal pain (the latter is not a normal symptom), it is time to go to the doctor or ER.

If you are experiencing extreme pain and cannot sit down or wear your normal pants, get to the doctor immediately.

There is no testing to confirm a Bartholin cyst or abscess. It is simply diagnosed by a physician through examination. In many cases, especially if the issue is a returning or repeating one, the doctor may collect a culture to determine a bacterial strain so that the best medication can be prescribed. You will also be checked for related STD's such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.

The culture is typically collected from the drainage of the cyst or abscess, and test results are usually back within 48 hrs. When you go to the doctor, you might be given pain killers depending on the severity of your condition.

Once the pain killers have kicked in, a local anesthetic is applied to the affected area, and the doctor will make an incision. The relief is immediate. All the pressure simply goes away. The doctor will then either pack the gland with a special gauze or use a balloon catheter.

As a special note, if it has been decided that the Bartholin gland needs to be lanced, local anesthetics do not work well in areas where there is inflamed tissue. If you are in pain, be sure to discuss your options for relief prior to surgery. You can be sedated if necessary. All you need to do is ask.

Occasionally, though no longer as common as it was a few years ago, marsupialization was a procedure that created a permanent drainage site to prevent cyst and/or abscess reoccurrence. The doctor would generously make the recommendation and arrange for a time to do it.

Many doctors today still believe that there is some benefit in performing this procedure in individuals that suffer from this problem on a frequent basis. However it has come to light that this invasive, permanent change may not be as beneficial as once thought.

While marsupialization does provide drainage, it appears that at least 60 percent of those who have had this procedure see reoccurrences. Often the problem jumps to the other gland that has not been marsupialized.

Once you have had the cyst or abscess drained, you will probably feel a whole lot better. Proper at home care is imperative to prevent re-infection and sooth any pain or discomfort. If you can spare the money, a shower head with an extendable neck or hose will make regular cleaning much easier and more comfortable as you can adjust the pressure and the wound is not entirely submerged.

Try not to pull on or mess with either the packing or the Word catheter as they can easily become dislodged or fall out. Also, you should opt for the Word catheter if you can since it's less irritating and you can sit down with it, as opposed to the packing, which is excruciating to have removed. If you have packing, take a pain killer prior to removal.

If the catheter falls out within 24 hours, the balloon was not inflated correctly (which often happens) and it needs to be replaced, however if you drop the catheter a few days afterwards you should be alright. Continue using a sitz bath to keep it clean.

Remember that if your doctor prescribed you some antibiotics, you must finish them out. Finish every last pill even if everything feels better. In addition to any medication, ask your doctor for prescription strength ibuprofen or hydrocodone as you will be in pain post surgery for 2-3 days.

Most doctors prescribe clindamycin as the antibiotic in varying doses in accordance with the severity of the infection. If this is the medication you are given, ask for anti-nausea pills because it will make you nauseous.

You can help prevent these nasty buggers from coming back. My experience has shown me that when one comes, several follow in a row, generally sticking to one side, or occasionally bouncing back and forth between the right and left sides.

  • As mentioned before, regular use of a warm bath will help break up any blockage that may exist or be forming. The occasional addition of Epson salt to a bath increases your ability to prevent a blockage from forming, but be careful that you not overdo it with the Epsom salt as it has the ability to cause dryness, which will lead to chaffing in the genital area.
  • Keep strong cleansers and body washes away, instead opting for gentle, fragrance- and dye-free soaps.
  • If you feel some swelling coming on, get to a hot bath immediately if you can, and if possible create a current by moving your hands to help move water around the affected area. Repeat this up to 5 times a day with each bath lasting 10 minutes.
  • Wear loose fitting pants and non-constricting underwear. During sleep, wear a simple t-shirt to bed or very loose bottoms. Make use of heating pads to sooth and bring comfort as well and encourage the gland to expel the buildup of fluids. Drink a lot of water and fruit juices and stay away from dairy products (dairy increases mucus production) to help flush your system.
  • Get plenty of rest to help your body fight the imbalance. If you smoke, try to cut down during this period as it could aggravate the area by increasing the blood flow. Avoid applying pressure to the area as this increases the swelling.
  • For at home pain management, try using a cold pack. Don't use an ice pack since in this region of your body solid ice can act very quickly and damage the tissues by freezing them. Stick to gel packs, or in a desperate pinch, take a spoon and place it in the freezer for 15 min, remove it, wrap with a paper towel and apply to the surface of the swollen gland until the spoon is no longer cold or you have achieved some relief.
  • Don't overdo it with the cold treatments, which can cause tissue to contract—the opposite of what you want it to do. Heat is your very best friend! Avoid crossing your legs if the swelling is severe, and consider sitting on a pillow instead of harder surfaces such as kitchen chairs which can be aggravating.

While there is little study or research currently about the Bartholin gland, a recent outcry from suffering women is encouraging health care professionals to take a second look at this ongoing condition.

Unfortunately, we still do not know entirely how these little glands work, or why for some individuals they can become chronically infected, swollen, or painful.

For more information, look at these resources from emedicinehealth and WebMD.


divine garaba on April 27, 2019:

thanx so much

Crystal on November 29, 2017:

I’ve had issues with Bartholan Cysts for years. After catheters, sitz baths and draining didn’t work, my doctor removed the gland. It’s been about 10 years since my surgery. Every couple months I have extreme pain and swelling. I’ve mentioned it to my doctor. He says that an extremely small piece of the gland was missed. That the pain is coming from it pushing on the scarred tissue. I’ve asked if it could be removed and was told he wouldn’t do it because it could cause a hematoma and worse issues. Basically I have to deal with it for the rest of my life. He recommends alleve and sitz baths. I’m at a loss and wondering if anyone knows of a better option than suffering through this pain.

A different approach! on August 23, 2015:

Dear BG sufferers,

I am 29, have had two marsupializations, had both sides flare up multiple times, taken antibiotics many times, and had two years of anxiety, pain, and frustration from infected glands. I wanted to wait to post until I knew things really seemed to be on the up and up and (knock on wood) they still are, so I thought I should post now, in the hopes it helps some of you! Seriously, I tried everything Western medicine was able to offer. And doctors and gynocologists just seemed to know very little about it!

Finally, two months ago, after having a bladder infection followed by a BG infection and two courses of heavy duty antibiotics which left me feeling horrible, emaciated (over the last year I lost at least 20 pounds, even though I still had an appetite!), anxious and desperate to get healthy again, I went to a TCM doctor (Traditional Chinese Medicine). He looked at my tongue and took different pulses. My tongue was literally green the day I went in. And one gland, the same one that had had two marsupializations, was still quite swollen and painful. Three to four days after taking the prescribed herbs as tea, I was urinating when I heard two plops in the toilet (sorry for the description!). I looked in and there were two white, marble-like blobs of what looked like tissue. I ran to my room to feel where the cyst had been-and it was almost gone, about 75% down. I have been on the herbs (they change every week) for 6 weeks now, and my health is coming back to me in waves. The pain in that area is subsiding, my anxiety is lifting, I have gained 5 pounds back, my family and friends have commented that my voice sounds back to normal (I didn't even realize it wasn't normal until they said something!), I am sleeping less, in a good way (I was needing 10+ hours just to function), have more energy, am feeling ambitious and excited about life again, and generally have that feeling of realizing you were more sick than you realized at the time--something that is hard to see sometimes, when you are in the midst of illness.

There are a few other things I wanted to mention, that I changed in my life just before going to the TCM doctor, and that I have been continuing: acupuncture (I have been going weekly for about 3 or 4 months now), daily meditation or at least purposeful quiet time, getting a bit more exercise, even just a walk or some yoga daily, and I got out of a very draining relationship. I realize now that if I had stayed in the said relationship, I likely wouldn't have healed--herbs or no herbs... I think it is because it takes a lot of time and energy to truly heal from Bartholin Gland cysts/abscesses. These things go deep (physically/emotionally). I tried everything else first--antibiotics, surgeries, books, home remedies, a million baths, heating pads, supplements, different diets, cutting things out, you name it!! And finally it seems to have come down to having to actually deal with life--and clean out, literally and figuratively, things that aren't working.

Now, there is just a small bit of something left where 6 weeks ago a big infected cyst was (I think it may be a bit of scar tissue from the surgeries) and it seems to be getting smaller and softer by the week. I will keep doing the herbs, and everything else, until I am truly healed. It has been a painful and long process, but I promise you all, there is hope!! I think Western medicine does have its time and place (and it does work for some folks with BGs) but if you have run the gamut and you are still not having luck, I recommend trying the Eastern thing and just seeing if it can work for you! Because holy moly it is hard to have glands in your precious lady parts infected, painful, and volatile all the time!!

Good luck and much love!


nikki on May 23, 2015:

Im 16 and i got my first gb a few months ago...was in the gyno for a good 10 mins and the doc was cuttin me open!!! Had 7 numbing shots bc she kept missing and i kept feeling her CUT ME OPEN! took a good 20 mins to drain and theyput a cath. In and i pulled it out a week later and it was fine. I now have another one- STILL VERY PAINFUL- and i have to wait another 6 days to even see my

Jess on April 28, 2015:

I had the gland removed 2 year ago and I still get the bump everytime I get my period and when I have sex or get aroused.. I am so thankful for this website because it has helped me not get so stressed out over it.. I now take care of it at home when it gets too big.. I have never felt pain because of it but it is just annoying having a bump in there... The only pain is the surgery.. DAMN if it hurts afterwards. Then you feel less pain and are glad the nightmare is over but then you realize it is STILL THERE and the surgery did nothing!.... anyway.. I take this as a reminder of drinking more water... using a pad with hot water to sit on every now and then and wash my genital area with NEUTRAL soap to not change the PH of the area... it has worked very well.. and I guess Im getting used to it.. the only problem is that I feel like if I go to a gyno she will tell me to d a procedure or something and I dont want to anymore because to me it is all BS and they know LITTLE about this problem...

Julie on April 21, 2015:

Could you tell me if a swollen bartholin gland and proctitis could be connected please?

Rachel on March 17, 2015:

Follow up: it seems starting the antibiotics early isn't a good move for 'home rupturing' or avoiding it.

The antibiotics as predicted seemed to stop the swelling in its tracks at the point it had already reached and just kept it there. Impossible to ruture as it wasn't full enough to burst.

Been in the bath for 10 days, used 4 bottles of witch hazel, 15 tubs of salt, 2 bags of epsom salts, (some made into magnesium sulphate paste to apply directly) 5 bottles of tea tree, 2 bottles of lavender. 50,000 painkillers and a partridge in a pear tree.

It would not burst. 7 day antibiotics ran out yesterday and ever since, the static swelling has been increasing and pain levels reaching that insanity level. (Which i think would have happened a whole week ago without the antibiotics)

At 3am just had a bath (its the only way i can go to the toilet - gross i know) and boiled myself alive. Went back on top of bed and halleluia its finally ruptured... But there's a section in the middle part of the vulva that i couldn't drain out of the 'rupture rip' i have immense relief right now but praying that small part left won't just turn into another monster tomorrow.

Getting a different antibiotic tomorrow. Doc said no need for antibiotics after rupture but i like to be on them to make sure no infection happens post rip.

Not sure whether to take them or save them in house for the next one. (Provided it doesn't come back full force tomorrow - praying i can somehow absorb the bit that's left)

Doc said on phone today that i would have to go to ER for lancing? Yet i keep hearing online that GP's often do it themselves? There's no way i could sit on a hard seat in ER for 8 hours waiting to be seen with one of these and THEN go through the agony of whatever they decided to do.

Off to bed now to sleep for the first time in a week, if i wake to another swelling. I'll cry.

Rachel on March 10, 2015:

These websites are a godsend when going through this, if only to not feel so alone when going through such trauma and agony.

I'm 36, I had a hysterectomy for cervical cancer 5 years ago and was fine. Then 2 years ago i got my first abscess. I'm not fully perimenopausal yet, my ovaries are sporadically dying and kick starting again over last 2 years, they're not giving up fully yet but i think this is linked to the birth of the abscesses.

I'm now on my fourth abscess (alternating sides), never had any treatment apart from antibiotics and after reading this page i don't think i ever will!

The first three became unbearable golf ball sized before getting antibiotics and they all ruptured through the skin taking half an hour to encourage it to drain. (Doing it in the bath helps to reduce that putrid smell of rotting meat) i'm usually left weak and shaking in shock on the bathroom floor for a while afterwards.

I did have a cyst a month ago (the only none painful lump i've ever had down there) and i got my body to absorb the fluid by increasing my usual dose of blockbuster allclear containing serrapeptase (everyone should try this) it disolves all inorganic material in your body and blood) i usually use it for blood clots anyway so i know how well it works. It totally removed the cyst.

My current abscess appeared from nothing, i'm taking the antibiotics straight away this time but don't know if this will prolong things by stopping it from growing to a size that will rupture it. It may just drag things out. This combined with spending day and night in the bath (with salt, witch hazel, teatree and lavender) and then any time out of the bath using hot camomile, marshmallow root and comfrey poultices, applying colloidal silver and drinking nettle, cleavers or cranberry juice. I'm attacking it from all angles.

I'm not taking the blockbuster allclear for a few days in case it stops the antibiotics working, but i wish i could!

Pain levels from doing all of this are minimal (but the abscess hasn't grown to its usual rupture size) maybe it would be better to have let it. But i'll give it a week and see how it progresses and compare it to my previous home BA tortures!

We shouldn't have to be dealing with this in this day and age. But as always we're just a bunch of neurotic women making a big deal out if nothing. Grrr.

bartho on February 25, 2015:

Hello @tinyKey

I am in my 11th recovery month post gland removal. I am still in lot of pain. I believe I could potentially have pudendal neuralgia. Do you think I will ever get ok? Have you had any improvement since your personal surgery? please help!! and give me some hope

Michelle on February 10, 2015:

I had a batholin cyst marsupialised about 16 years ago. It was the size of a small orange and had spread into my groin - it was absolute agony. After the op was done, the surgeon came round and I expressed concern to him that I could still feel infection in the gland. He dismissed my concerns but a week later I was rushed back in as an emergency because I had sepsis and was in a pretty bad way. I was not told what happened during that op and when I tried to ask I was led to believe that the same thing was done, although the responses I got were always very vague. However I believe the whole gland was removed because after waiting a few weeks for the swelling etc to go down, my vagina was (is) completely physically different and I am no longer able to experience the same pleasure from sex as I did before. On one side, the side where the gland was removed, it feels as if that area has concaved, it's the only way I can explain it. For at least 3 years after the op I was also unable to lubricate at all and I now frequently get UTIs when prior to the operation I'd never had a single UTI. No matter how much I've tried to explain this to doctors, they have treated me as if I'm mad and don't know my own body. It appears to be irrelevant to them that I find it difficult to experience pleasure from sex when before it was a great joy for me. I sometimes feel if I were a man, my sexual dysfunction would be treated with my gravitas. I keep hoping it will improve but it doesn't and it makes me feel very ashamed and very low to the point where I've stopped having sexual relations. What's compounded the problem is the treatment I've received from the medical profession who are so unwilling to listen to the experiences of their patients. They've read in a text book that it is a certain way and therefore they seem to be incapable of using common sense and looking at the evidence being presented to them or applying any compassion where this is concerned.

niccibea on January 28, 2015:

Cant believe how many of us suffer with this, and really pisses me off how they say its minor and "slight" discomfort....ive had 2 drainages by operations with a million flare ups\bursts inbetween....8 months ago i had part of my bartholin gland removed which after 12 weeks recovery left a collapsed scar where my lump, or "Bob" as i called it, use to be. Was prescribed with estriol cream which irrited the area and caused another lump to appear....after stopping using the cream i now have "Bob 2" on the other side! I do everything as regards to bathing/sitz baths ect but im still insisting on seeing the top gynies as im 27 and not prepard to put up with it. It affects my life massively and after seeing everyones posts im more determin than ever to get sorted. Fingers crossed for all you girlies!

tinykey on November 04, 2014:

@guest above: I quote "Had my gland removed two months ago and it was the biggest mistake of my entire life"

you poor thing, you need amitriptyline urgently, you have nerve damage from the operation, it's called pudendal neuralgia, and OBGYNs will never admit they did a lousy surgery

Dana on September 21, 2014:

Thank you so much for all this information. This is the first time I have had one of these and I was freaking out about what it was. I first noticed some sensitivity (on my perineum) while I was in the shower on a Monday but I didn't think much of it. As the week went on I noticed it more and more and began to feel a little bump under the skin. It grew to the size of pea and became visible and within a couple of days it was the size of a large grape (elongated grape). By Friday night it was very tender and painful and made sitting/laying uncomfortable. Saturday I went in to my doctor's office (they have after-hours/weekend urgent care) and had it looked at. The doctor immediately recognized what it was and prescribed two antibiotics and pain relief/anti-inflammatory medication. She said it was really common and not that serious but obviously painful and uncomfortable because of the location. She also told me that it wasn't ready to drain yet and that I needed to make an appointment with my Gynecologist for Monday. The antibiotics have been working really well. Within 12 hours it started to drain on it's own and felt less sensitive. It's been 24 hours now and the pain is virtually gone and it is alot smaller. I'm not sure if this means it will go away without having to have it drained but I'm just glad it's getting better.

The Antibiotics she prescribed were: Clindamycin (generic for cleocin) and Amox TR-K CLV (generic for Augmentin)

The pain/anti-inflammatory medication was: Naproxen

mandaa on September 02, 2014:

Hello! Im so glad im not alone on this painful journey. Im 22 and I've had Bartholin Abscess 4 times now. I just recently had a major one about the size of a golf ball. I just had surgery on it 2 days ago & my catheter is poking out? Is that normal? Im really scared to go back to the doc just because of the painful experience I had when they put it in...please help!

muffed on July 23, 2014:

Hi Flash, Sounds like we have a few things in common! I have squamous cell cancer of the Bartholin duct. It was near the surface, allowing me to find it when it was less than 2 cm long. I also had a partial vulvectomy, but on the left. I'm stage three, too. The sentinel lymph node had a tumor, and the one nearest to it had cancer cells found by a microscope. All other nodes they examined were free. I am waiting to heal (my surgery was three weeks ago) before starting chemo/radiation. Down to one drain now after two were removed. Slowly regaining my energy. Oddly enough, I started menopause about the same time you did, and we ae almost the same age. Sounds like you been through a lot. Hope you are feeling better ...

Flash Gorski on July 22, 2014:

muffed: I had a large cancerous tumor removed in November, 2011. It was on my right bartholin gland. The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, making it Stage 3. I had a partial vulvectomy, then a raft of subsequent surgeries. But I never took estrogen; I started menopause at 42, 20 years ago. Bartholin gland cancer is rare; we're each one in a million!

muffed on July 15, 2014:

I recently had surgery to remove a bartholin duct cancer. The cancer occurred after being prescribed unopposed estrogen for several years, delivered by a femring. I'm curious if anyone reading this has had a similar experience, or if you know someone who has had any type of vulvar cancer associated with unopposed estrogen.

jenn on July 01, 2014:

Thanks for this post. I had marsupialization 7 years (I didn't know better). The doctor recommendedicated the procedure. I noticed a cyst last week. Clearly the procedure didn't work. I've been using hot compresses, taking sitz baths and taking cranberry extract pills. I feel like the cyst is getting good smaller. It's hard though because this cyst puts an end to sex life. Can you elaborate on how long to wait to have sex again after the cyst is gone? Also, does exercise exacerbate the cyst? Thanks for the info on this site. It's been helpful.

Iris on May 29, 2014:

Can the vaginal procedure done to remove this cause you to miss your period?

ky on May 01, 2014:

I'm 31 and I've been plagued by this thing since i was 16. To make a long story short try taking over the counter mucus relief products such as mucinex to break up the mucus in your body since the BC is filled with mucus. The size of the cyst will decrease in a matter of days! It worked for me.

lisa on April 08, 2014:

i had mine drained 2 times already and its back again am so afraid of doing the surgery

Post-op on March 22, 2014:

Just had mine removed three days ago. Oh I hope the choice was the right choice for me! Time will tell. I will add, seven years ago I had my BG lanced, and since that time it'd obviously come back. As for the pain, the procedure was painless (was sedated and remember nothing), but the recovery... We'll I still haven't actually been able to sit down yet (and I have a donut pillow). I can't imagine I'll be driving anytime soon--for fear of any pain impairing my ability to drive-- and I'm thinking I'll need to mentally recover from this, as well. I had some, what I call, "PTSD" after natural child birth (I had a great experience, but tore AND had an episiomity and both bothered me to think about after I'd physically healed), it took me more than a year to not get upset when I thought about my poor vagina! I think talking about the trauma I'm experiencing (so so very swollen and bruised up and down as black as ink) will help me as I mentally heal. This is not a small deal! It's painful, frustrating and really lonely to go though. Thanks all for hearing what I've shared. And lastly, I will suggest for anyone going through this- line up support for yourself after surgery. You will not be up and making dinner for yourself, or even able to walk around much. I wish I had taken off more than a week from all work including household work. And ask for pain meds and a laxative! I went from being a regular to above average pooper, to a completely distended stomach despite laxatives twice a day. Ouch. This too shall pass...pun intended. Best of luck, all.

Tammy on March 20, 2014:

Firstly i would like to sympotize with Cindys daughter, as my daughter has been suffering with recurrent vuval abcesses since she was 13yr old she is now 17 and still has them. she has had her bartholins gland removed and still has a abcess every month normally before or just after her period. she has had surgery after surgery, including surgery on her belly looking for something so rare called canal of nook. we are now at our wits end as her life is in limbo, she has had to leave school due to the recurrent abcesses because she fell so far behind, she cannot go to college at the moment because we know the same thing will happen there and no employer will ever take her on knowing that every month she will be in hospital having a op. we have antibiotics in the house permantly ready for when the next abcess starts and have been told by the dc that they are now at a loss of how to help her with this problem.

YoungLady18 on March 17, 2014:

This page totally saved my butt! I noticed that i had a swollen glad typically around the time i'm going to get my period, recently its flared up , probably due to a UTI i've been suffering. At first i just figure it was pretty normal, but then found that its not normal to anyone i know, this paged helped me to learn, noo i'm not a freak, i belive mine comes from my hormone imbalance that i take birth control to help fix ( i was on my period for three months non stop due to this problem), because when i first got my period waaay before i was ever sexualy active i would have the gland puff also, its never unbearable, just uncofortable after a day of shopping, Warm showers and sitting on a heating pad help, currently i'm on antibiotics for my UTI and i think they have been helping aslo, but regardless thank you for this page, cause i was going to ask my doctor and he either wouldn't have know or would want to drain it which i have now learn is BAD!

guest on December 03, 2013:

Had my gland removed two months ago and it was the biggest mistake of my entire life. I felt exactly the way yall did. I had been having them for 11 years, had every procedure done, and finally one day I was fed up and agreed with the removal. The labia where the gland was removed was swollen as huge as an orange, I was black and blue in bruises and bled so much I thought I was dying. The pain was the worst Ive ever had to deal with. The nurses have no clue what your going through and will act to you as if you should be fine. They told me to take off 3 days of work. HA!!! I could not even barely move for 2 weeks! Ive had 3 c sections and if I combined all three, it would not even compare to the pain I was in. Pain meds did not even hint to help the pain, This should not be a same day procedure by all means! You need to be in the hospital atleast a week getting one of the strongest pain medication there is out there. I am not exaggerating one bit. I was crying every single day. Two months post removal, I have no feeling on my left side where the gland was removed, I am dysfunction looking down there and I can not have an orgasm from my clit!!! I thought that "lump" was awful and ruined my sex life, no no I was wrong. I would give anything to NEVER had that removed. 3 week after surgery I got put in the hospital for having a UTI turn into such a bad infection that it got into my blood stream. Now Ive been in the hospital two more times for kidney infections. I honestly believe that the surgery is related somehow to all this. I was a perfectly healthy mom of three sweet boys, and now I am depressed and constantly in and out of the hospital. The surgery happened Sept 22. I am currently looking for a new gyno to get their opinion about the numbness and no orgasm, but yet to have time to go to one. Your surgeon will not admit any faults and will always try to make you look like your the stupid one. Remember, please take my advice. This could happen to you also. My life has turn completely upside down this Sept 22. This was mt biggest mistake I chose to do in my entire 27 years of life.

hailey on December 02, 2013:

Hi I've been having these off and on for 3 years now & Im 18 years old. They are very painful and i did get the doctor to run tests to make sure i didn't have any of the stds that are known to cause them & each time I've been tested I've never came up positive for anything. So Im just wondering why do i still get them if its not a std causing it then what is??? The first time i had one the doc told me it was from shaving so i stopped shaving there then i got another one & then they tell me that just some women get them & that there's really no way to prevent them.. I've even tried the warm bath thing i mean that did cause the last one i had to drain on its own but i still had to deal with 4 days of severe pain before it drained and 6 days of hot baths several times a day 8

I started the hot bath thing when i first felt it appearing thinking maybe it'd go away before it gets painful but it didn't i really just wanna get rid of these things for good!!

Laura on November 24, 2013:

Hi, my left Bartholin gland developed a cyst last October, i was treated with antibiotics etc, but it continued to grow and tripled in size within a few days and was extremely painful; it had accessed. I was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, a marsupialization was done, this took quite a few weeks to recover from, and I still had quite alot of pain around the area, it flared up quite a few times, I was admitted on iv antibiotics twice, my partner and I didn't (and couldn't) have sex, I had sitz baths. I had a couple of needle aspirations done to release the fluid as they were trying to avoid more surgery while I was pregnant. However at 35 weeks I had another marsupialization done. When I was giving birth I also had another needle aspiration done. The gynae team at the hospital said they had never seen a case as bad as mine and wanted to remove the entire gland 6 weeks post partum. However at my review appt they decided to take a 'wait and see' approach as they said they really didn't want to make it any worse for me. 6 months on and I'm still having problems. I have a permanent large cyst there, which apparently most of is scar tissue, however it fills up with fluid also, I had a needle aspiration done last week. I am on the list for the Bartholin gland removal surgery, which they're estimating should be sometime in jan. but both myself and the doctors are unsure whether the surgery will help, if they'll be able to get the whole gland out due to the scar tissue, how deep they'll have to dig, what the recovery time will be etc. it affects my life now, I do feel pain each day and my partner and I aren't able to have a sex life, and I'm afraid it will hinder me returning to work if I'm needing to return to Hosp all the time. But I can sit, walk and run fine. I'm worried that with the surgery I could be worse off, and that the problem may return anyway. We are also getting married in April in Fiji, so I would of course like to know I'd be recovered by then: but there's no way to tell. Caring for our baby will also be incredibly hard whole in recovering and we have no family here to help. I'm lost as to what to do, as the surgery could help or it could make my life even harder.

Melkanzakii on November 15, 2013:

I am 30, and had no idea these things exsisted. I had never heard of them before. I had my first BG cyst absess, the doctor drained it and used a word catheter.. it was the most painful thing I have ever felt. That was four months ago.. only four months, and I have another one on the same side. It is painful to the touch, but when I squeeze it slightly, a small drop of white fluid is produced from the duct opening.. Which leads me to believe that the duct is NOT abstructed... every time after sex with my partner, i would rush to the bathroom, and make sure fluid was still passing through the new duct... I don't know what I should do in this situation.. I would love to just have it removed and never have to think of it again... Not only is it physicaly affecting me, it is psychologicaly.. i'm afraid of having sex, or being aroused, due to the lubricant created.. I have been taking a hot bath for the past two days, it's not get smaller, if anything, slowly growing.. I don't see how people are supposed to deal with this.. I feel so defeated, and scared of having this very real issue, continue to disrupt my life.. my job, my health, the intimacy with my partner.. my emotional well being..? I realize I am new to this, and my heart goes out to you all that have had to deal with this for so long... how can someone have a healthy sexual relationship with so much pain, and fear?

Rorro12 on October 15, 2013:

I went to my doc as I had a sore, painful lump. She thought it was a Bartholins Gland cyst and sent me that afternoon to a gynie. When he went to cut and drain, nothing came out, he explained it wasn't a cyst and immediately did a biopsy. That was Thursday, it's now Tuesday, I'm still swollen and have meds to ease the pain and wait for results. Anyone else with this experience?

Deeice on October 15, 2013:

My bartholin glands need to be removed. I had surgery for vulvar vestibulitis back in 2006 which was a partial success but I continue to have pain at my BG's. I'm currently trying to locate a doctor in the U.S. that performs BG removal using microsurgery as it's less invasive than traditional surgery. If anyone has had their BG's successfully removed please let me know. Would love more info on doctors. Thank you. Dee

Banna888888888888 on September 24, 2013:

Can you get a cyst on both sides?

Liz on May 02, 2013:

I have had these cysts a few times years ago during 2 of my 3 pregnancies. A week ago I felt a small tender spot on my left labia, and I had intercourse with my husband the next three days and it swelled up pretty bad and hurt. By the fourth day of this I could not walk without pain or sleep. Today is the 7th day and it hurts to have anything touch the area, to walk, sit on the toilet, etc. I have been doing sitz baths the last 2 days and prior to that I had been using a warm, wet wash cloth to try to draw it out. It is about the size of an egg now and on one side there is a very red and raw bump that I assume is the head. It is not draining and I would say that the pain is worse than having my kids. I am brought to tears and find that I even hold my breath because it hurts so bad. The area where the head appears to be has a section about the size of a pencil eraser that looks like the top layer of skin is gone. The "head" area is about the size of a nickel and more red than the egg sized lump that has doubled the size of my left labia. I just saw my gyno 2 days ago and he said that it would drain on it's own in a few days. I am on Bactrim for a week to help with the infection. While I was there the dr also found that I have cysts on my cevix that he called Cervical acne. I have been experienceg cramping and discomort in my abdomin since I saw the dr and also notice a yellowish discharge from my vagina . I pray it goes away very soon and I hope once gone it never comes back! Wondering if it is bad enough at this point that I should go to the dr again or if because the skin is thinning on the head that maybe it will rupture soon and give me relief?

shane on March 05, 2013:

thank you so much for this article, it gave me a lot of knowledge about my condition right now. i can almost cry reading the comments. i am so afraid now. i don't think i can handle the surgery and the catheter thing plus the expenses, i don't have a money to see a doctor :'( currently im trying to get rid of it by my self (been doing the sizt bath for 3 days and hoping it will work). last month, i had successfully drained the abscess (near my right labia) by myself and i was a bit shocked to see another lump developed (this time on the left near the opening). i was not that afraid anymore because i know how to get rid of it but reading comments, i found out that in some cases, the lump would come back again and again. this made me frustrated. i don't know what to do anymore, even if this second lump will go away, another might appear again next month. what if i really have to undergo surgery to make it stop? i don't think i can handle it.

tina on December 24, 2012:

im 46 yrs old, noticed it like 2wks ago went the gyno, she prescribed antibio and danzen , it didn't go away and its not painul , she told me she will remove it if it starts hurting, and that it usually happens to women after giving birth which i never did, i might be over doing it with hot water though, :), thanx a lot for this educating page,, but does this condition becomes dangerous at any level, thnx again

Maria on December 11, 2012:

Great Article and wonderful Q/A's!! I've been doing a lot of research on natural treatments for various health issues (I'm chemically sensitive so "standard medical treatments" usually don't work for me). I've been researching BG issues and have 2 question for everyone here:

1) I've noticed that that when I shower or bath the swelling disappears (and it's no longer tender to the touch or itchy when I rub it with soap/water during cleansing). However, within an hour of showering or bathing, the tenderness comes back without any sexual arousal.

a) What could be causing this?

b) Where is the fluid coming from?

2) Has anyone ever tried treating the BG inflammation with an Activated Charcoal poultice? More details here:

If anyone has tried this, or is willing to try this, it would be great if you could post your experience with this.



GL on October 14, 2012:

i also had gland problems but i would suggest to all ladies to do everything possible to keep gland they can even turn it inside out and it will still function cause once they are gone so is the fluid you receive from them not at all comfortable and you will miss the natural things we take for granted.

jwb on October 03, 2012:

Just had my 3rd abscess drained. 1st word catheter, going on holiday for 4 weeks in a couple of weeks time and Dr told me to leave it in 4-6 weeks and then take it out. Anyone taken one out themsleves? I was told to cut it about an inch and a half up from the end and hold onto the other piece still inside and then pull the other half out.

Should it still be draining a lot after 2 days? How long does this typically last for? Does having the catheter in pose more risk for infection where it stays open so long? Is it safe to go in a swimming pool with the catheter in, or is there risk of germs getting in the wound?

Sorry for all the questions but not had the catheter before and all feels a little weird.

Thanks for any help.

ةهةه on September 16, 2012:


Sarah on August 07, 2012:

I have a strange occurrence and it sounds like the smartest women in the world are here. I experienced a burning sensation in the location of the NH during arousal. A quick investigation discovered a small lump, about the size of my thumbnail. It want painful, so I carried on, but upon orgasm experienced a very intense burn which was alarming. But suddenly, the lump was gone. Is it known that gland activation can cause spontaneous draining? Other than my quick exam, the area was not touched. I'm a bit concerned because I'm supposed to go out of town soon and I'm afraid I'll have an acute problem away from home, but it's hard for me to get to a doctor on short notice. Do you have any wisdom on this matter?

Kaz on July 27, 2012:

My doc told me I have a BG cyst but on squeezing it blood comes from my anus. Is this normal?

Carr on July 04, 2012:

I had my BG removed last year feb a swelling has been there a few months after I drained it but it doesn't.thinking about getting the catheter put in . Is it necessary

JM7141 on June 26, 2012:

I need some advice. I've had an enlarged bartholin glad (about the size of an almond) for over 2 years. It never hurt or bothered me so my doctor said we would just watch it. Last weekend, it trippled in size and I had a little pain. Some of the swelling has gone down (to the size of a grape) and the pain has dissappeared. My doctor said it is not infected but due to size she can either drain it, do the marsupulation procedure or take out the gland completely. What would you all suggest? I hate to go through all of the pain, time to heal and possible complications of a surgery for something since this is only the first time this has happened. Should I drain it this time and consider surgery if/when it comes back? Thank you so much for your help!

jessica, toronto on June 21, 2012:

Great article, thanx. My own bartholins abscess, i believe, started when scar tissue most likely developed after a minor sex injury in that area, which never fully healed, i felt. the first time i didn't know what is was, and it became so excruciating that i eventually went to emergency. It's interesting what was mentioned about local anesthetic not working well, because my experience was that the needle itself was more painful almost than the lancing procedure, which was also very painful because the anesthetic did not seem to be working. Fortunately I'm tough and dealt with it okay. I almost wish they had not bothered with the needle at all. They used a balloon catheter in this case, and it healed nicely.

But here I am, a year later almost to the week, and I've got another one in the same place. I might have to have the gland removed, if it has scar tissue that will create more blockages, leading to infection. Or I'll just see how these Clindamycin work.

Also this time around i experienced nausea, mild vomiting, and a terrible crawly skin feeling, like the flu, but no temperature, thank god. I imagine sepsis is a lot worse than an abscess!

pepstwolf on June 18, 2012:

I have had this and quite acutely, had 3 marsupialisations. My life changed when I learnt how to PREVENT them. Complementary and alternative medicine are a GODSEND. I also have a site (like stitchbug) I just want to help other women the way I have been helped! Cheers from Australia!

Barthgone on June 17, 2012:

Oh dear, so much for my optimism! Have a feeling it's coming back....will take the advice contained here...

Stitchbug (author) on June 14, 2012:

Wonderful! You are one of the VERY few that this procedure works for. Feel very special and thankful. Unfortunately for most, all it does is make things worse. I would also like to add donut cushions can do far more damage in the perineal region--readers, please be aware of this donuts cause a pulling and shifting of the delicate tissue use with caution. Hot water is never good post-surgery however in the at home treatment of a cyst or mild abscess it can be invaluable when combined with Epsom salt, marshmallow root, and chamomile in a sitz bath (not boiling, but plain warm may just not be enough for some women. Prior to surgery, definatley take pain killers but be aware that some aspirin products interfere with local and generals administered in surgical settings--talk with your doctor first before taking anything prior to surgery.

Stitchbug (author) on June 14, 2012:


This way i can stay on top of all your questions! Now. Kasandra: No its not preventing you from getting pregnant, but stress and BG issues can go hand in hand so keep your stress in check! Stress obviously is the biggest dead door for pregnancy. Kim: Well I suppose it is possible, but very unlikely. The gland may seem large, but when it is not inflamed its only the size of a pea. If you are thinking that perhaps somehow your cath has worked itself inside, you need to go to the doctor immediately (or at least I hope you did). Chances are it fell out, happens WAY to often with those word catheters. Sounds like you are one who they do not work for, next time ask for packing (yes its more painful but at least you do not have to worry about where the catheter went)

kim on June 09, 2012:

Is it possible for the word catheter to get lost inside the incision? I think the bottom of my catheter has gone inside my gland/incision as well as the balloon portion.

Kasandra on June 04, 2012:

I had a BG comes back every other year since I was 22 and now now I'm 26. Is this stopping me from getting pregnant?

Barthgone on June 04, 2012:

I had a bit of a horrible time just after having a marsupialisation, but 2 months down the line I'd recommend it to anyone with a cyst. It's completely gone, hasn't come back, no pain, good as new. No catheters, no lancing, no faffing around.

Get a good consultant to do it, have a local not a general, expect it to bleed for a week and give yourself 2 weeks to get better. Go back to your GP if you get any nasty infection like thrush as a result of pads etc and get it dealt with. Don't drink, don't smoke and eat a good diet as you recover, drink loads of water and actually as you recover just use a shower spray gently over the whole area twice a day. Sticking it all in a hot bath isn't a good idea post surgery. Just use plain, warm water. Get a donut cushion pre-surgery and use it in bed afterwards, don't let yourself overheat or get uncomfortable and don't sit for too long. Take walks once you feel able as they make you feel better than sitting or laying down.

Get painkillers in pre-surgery and take some before the local anaesthetic has worn off in order to maintain best possible pain-free situation. I'm now pleased I had it done.

quick question on June 03, 2012:

I had a bartholins gland recently and had a word catheter inserted to drain it. Is it safe to take a warm bath with it inserted inside of me or are the chances of it fallling out increased if I do?

Mary on May 27, 2012:

I am 48 and this is my first experience. I thought it was an ingrown hair until this morning. I have taken a bath with Epson Salt and sat in the hot tub. Not sure if the hot tub is a good idea, but it feels better. It has gotten smaller, but puss and a little blood has come out. I will make an appointment on Tuesday. This is crazy.

Christina on May 27, 2012:

hi, I'm 18 years old and 5 months pregnant and just came home from the ER yesterday , I was told I had a bartholin abscess that was the size of a lemon on my left side, it swelled up my libia, clitatoris, and closed my vaginal entrance(tmi), it got so bad to the point i couldn't sit, walk, or use the bathroom and i had to take off from work. i had the abcess for nine days so it was really infectected and full of pus and blood. They numbed me with numbing needles first then lanced me open and drained most of it out by squeezing the abcess and pushing on it which extremly hurt, they inserted a word catheter in to keep the gland open and so it can still drain, the swelling has pretty much went down right after the draining and i had immediate relief of pain, I now feel pinching here and there from the catheter , and im wondering if that's normal? , and what's the chances of this abscess coming back again ? it hurt so bad I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. but I'm happy I'm pain free and I'll pray for all you other women going threw this just know we are all in it together! :)

sunflower456 on May 26, 2012:

Only if you knew what I been threw and how long it took me to find this word "batholin gland". Lets see 10 doctors, 5 of them being "specialist". Emergency room visits. I finally stumbled upon this yeterday and found a picture of where the batholin gland is and that's exactly where my soreness is and had no idea it was a batholin gland. Three years! Three Years it took me to find this...smh. I have a question, my batholim gland has non-stop itched for three years and gets so darn sore and I have discharge (not sure if its related). However, there is NO cyst there. Doctors have looked and I have looked and felt and nothing is there. If it is, it has to be incredibly tiny like the size of an atom and would it cause that much grief? Could there be other things that could go wrong with the bahtorlin gland besides a cyst? Thank youl

Linda on May 23, 2012:

Hello, thank you for thic article, it has been very helpful. Do you find there a relation between hormone (in)balance and the Bartholin Gland. I've been diagnosed with hypothryoidism (underactive thyroid), which in turn often has a lot to do with having a shortage of progesterone and a dominance of oestrogen. I wonder if there's a connection between this problen and the cycste i have now in the bartholin gland. Ive never had this problem before until i was diagnosed and started taking thyrax, medication for the underactive thryoid. My skin also started to break out since.

cali89 on May 20, 2012:

Im so glad i found this website, and that im a little more educated on what's happening to me. I would like to say sorry to all you beautiful ladies for going through all this pain and not having any sucsess with being rid of these cysts once and for all. My first cysts popped up 8 months after i had my son (he's two now). The second showed its ugly face about a yr later. And then two came at the same time 5 moths later, and now im feeling like another one is about to come along. So im trying everything to pervent it from forming a cyst. None of mine have been lanced, i used a heating pad and an ice pack to get mine to bust. The previous ones ive had were very painfull and so very uncomfortable, i used a potato and a heating pad plus hot baths to make them come to a head and pop. I really hate these things and i do not know where they came from, bc ive never had these before until i had my son. But from what ive read on here it could be a numerous amount of things that could be causing these cysts. But what i can think of and could possibly be the reason they are popping up is possibly (correct me if im wrong) when i was in labor with my son i had an epideral, but unfortunatlly my epideral wore off bc of a drug they gave me before the epideral called staydol. It conteracted my epideral and made i non effective. So when i was 9 1/2 centemeters dialated i was in hell! I felt absolutley everything! I pushed for an hour tyring to get my son out and finally i was to tired to push anymore so my dr gave me an episiotomy and put a suction cup to my sons head to help me get him out. And i think what happened was my birthcanal was perfectly dialated and my son could fit through there, its just my opening to my vagina was either not big enough or just wasn't stretched enough (hence the episiotomy). I do not know if when that happened my glands were damaged or irratated. Does anyone know if this could be a possibility to why im having these cysts? I just really want them to go away so i can go back to a normal life and not have to worry about these thing coming and going whenever. If anyone knows of a way to sudside these to make them go away before they get to painfull to were i cant even take my two yr old son outside and have to keep him locked up on a nice day bc i cant move! I really hope someone out there is looking to find a way to correct this bc this is no way to live a life. Once again id like to apologize to all the strong women that have to go through this, keep your heads up ladies your not alone in this fight.

tb on May 20, 2012:

I just had mine lanced for the second time. Both on the same side and both hurt so bad..I tried the shower spray several times a day, antibiotics and heating pad nothing helped. Pain was gone almost immediately after its lanced. They were 10 months apart. Dr said if it happens again she will do surgery to sew it open..??? After she drained it no packing or catheter just sent home and told to take sits baths.

kk on May 20, 2012:

im not sure what i have.... i have what seems to be a slightly enlarged bartholins gland (maybe marble size). ive had it for a year maybe, and never had it seen bc in my culture we dont se a gyno until marriage or until ur sexually active (I know, its stupid!), and it hasn't caused any discomfort at all whatsoever. anyway, its presence has been bugging so im just going to get it checked out at the gyno. im just wondering.. has anyone had this issue but experienced no discomfort at all? like mine doesn't bother me at all. also, i wonder if being on birth control could prevent these things? anyone here on birth control , but still getting these things? wish you all the best with this issue...

Zara on May 19, 2012:

Omg the best site ever!!! Thanks a gazillion times for sharing this precious information.

Ok, so I've had twice bartholins gland cyst. First time they drained it with a catheter then I lost insurance and couldn't pay for my doc visit when it returned the next month so I in my desperate state had to drain it myself. I was crying and so desperate of help and everywhere I called no doctor would see me without paying up front. I used a hypodermic syringe and drained 2-3 ml of yellow pus out. I felt instant relief and starting taking antibiotics right away. I was back to normal the next day. I didn't see it til now almost 10 months later.

But now it's sooooooooo painful I can't even sit or walk. I am planning on going to the ER as soon as I make sure my son n daughter are taken care of when my husband comes home.

I'm currently sitting on a warm pad since I read keeping it warm will help. I've done salt water submersion last night and it helped but I woke up to excruciating pain.

How do I stop this monster from coming back every time? Please help! I have two kids, one a 5 year old and the other 22 month old. My husband goes away to Med school this August so if this happens again, I'm on my own with my lil babies. I'm so scared.

Thoughts on May 19, 2012:

Really sorry about all everyone has been through.... Been doing some research and out of curiousness, I wonder does anyone who suffers from repeat BC problems or even problems with BGlands - have you also ever had problems with your front teeth- ie. knocked them, root canals, tooth decay, etc. Just wondering if there is a connection with the tooth nerve & glands.

Xinz on May 15, 2012:

I had an abscess and did a minor surgery on drainage (only) last week. Currently I am on antibiotic to avoid inflammation on the wound. The doctor have warned me it have high possibility of reoccurring again. I am very worried it will reoccur again and have been doing slitz bath on daily basis. Right now I still can feel tenderness, a little bit swollen near my top labia. Is this normal?

Sam on May 14, 2012:

hi, I've had reoccurring BG abscess for the past 8 months it's occurred 3 times. I was able to get a referral today after having the abscess lanced last night to get a marsupilation. but for some reason unlike the first time I got it lanced I've become feeling nausea and going from not being able to stop shaking for hours, to being hot, to feeling normal. I don't think this is normal and I don't know what to do. I've been taking the antibiotics properly and also been taking Advil for how sore I am. should I go back to the doctor? or is this sometimes normal to feel sick after being lanced?

catriona on May 14, 2012:

hi all..i suffered terribly with batholin gland on the left about 20 yrs ago every month it would flare up,i was in hospital once when it flared up they drained it. Then again the following month it was up i lanced it myself (my GP was not very happy). But from then till now its been fine,over the last week or so its appeared on the right side im in agony and being constantly sick..even though i take anti sickness every day,havnt been to gp yet leaving that for tomorrow :(,i just know its going to be surgery . Thank god for this site its prepared me for the next step .

Summer on May 13, 2012:

Ive had Bcyst 4 times within a year and it's always the same gland.

The first time antibiotics and then general anesthetic.

It then reoccurred a few months later and I had the catheter put in.

I then had to have another catheter put in two more times after this.

I am so sick of having this horrible thing happen to me so many times.

It's starts as a bruising felling then a small lump then a huge painful uncomfortable ball.! It's now re occurring fr the fifth time!

I am really wanting it removed?! Is there a chance It will re occurr after it being removed!?

Ellen on May 08, 2012:

Happy to know I am not alone. I have suffered with a BG cysts for years. I'm 47 and going through menopause. I have been experiencing this since mid 20's. Although the gland would close often (walnut/golfball size), it would never become inflamed...just an inconvenience. I had spoken to my obgyn about it and she said it was nothing to be concerned with, unless it became painful.

A year and a half ago, that all changed! We were two days away traveling to my in-laws & the cyst, once again, made itself known, with a vengeance! I tried warm compresses and sitz baths. The following morning it had reached the size of tennis ball. Extremely painful. I was not able to get in to my obgyn, but got in to see LNP at my general practitioner's.

An abscess had developed. She lanced & drained it, which offered immediate relief (not quite enough for a 12 hour drive, though. A "doughnut" was a much appreciated suggestion). She did not place me on antibiotics. We made it to my in-laws and it continued to grow. Excruciatingly in to a minor emergency center...doc there wouldn't touch it and sent me to the ER an hour and a half away. Pain increased with every minute. After an 8 hour wait at the ER, the abscess was once again drained, packed this time & I was sent on my way with antibiotics.

You know when your doctor/nurse ask you your level of pain from 1-10? This episode will always be my #10! I had never been so relieved in my life.

About a month ago, the cyst began to developed & go away every few days. I made sure to soak in the tub & keeping it draining, however, it's beginning to feel painful again...and I don't ever want to relive that again. I'll give it until morning w/ lots of water, sitz baths and warm compresses (and maybe even take some mucinex) If no improvement by morning, I'll be calling the doc.

kaylia on April 30, 2012:

I have had 12 cysts since I was 16 and I am now 22. I just had my 12th one on Wednesday. They cut it and put a catheter in and told me that I have to leave it in for 6 weeks. I am really getting tired of dealing with this problem. I have asked my doctors to please do something but they won't. I have talked to them about doing the marsup. But he said that if he doesn't do it right it can come back. Also I have asked about removing the whole gland itself but he won't.

Please someone help.

Barthgone on April 29, 2012:

I had a marsupialization 4 days ago. It was stitched but no packing etc was used. I was discharged after a couple of hours (during which time I was just laying in bed) and on my journey home by car and at home I absolutely flooded with blood. I was told to elevate my feet etc and it did calm down but the next morning I flooded again.

I went to A & E (a horrible experience)and was examined by gynae consultant. Told that it was clotting okay and to go home. It's now 4 days after the op and although the bleeding has calmed down a lot, I'm still needing to use pads. Before I had the op I was told there would be minimal bleeding but since my horrible experience I've been given all sorts of different advice about how long it might bleed for. It seems to me that they are plucking figures out of thin air just to pacify me.

What is the usual length of time for it to stop bleeding? I'm furious because you try to plan your life around recovery time and find that you are reliant on others cavalier attitude.

I am also very cross because my cyst caused no pain at all but I was told that surgery would mean a 95% chance it would not come back. Reading this page it seems that I've put myself through all of that and am still bleeding for absolutely nothing.

I had pretty much completed my menopause and now I'm having to wear pads again. I basically feel like a lab rat. I also have pains in my stomach but can't tell whether they have been caused just because I am so upset and anxious!

chez on April 22, 2012:

my cyst has returned for the 4th time in 4 years _ 1st time it was lanced and the past 3 times have taken antibiotics and its all very frustrating. I find polydine baths seem to ease the pain and help the infection somewhat. I am in my 40's so I also worried for any other implications, HPV etc

cara on April 20, 2012:

Hello, i'm 16, I am sexually attactive now and having a bartholin cyst is a pain! I don't know how to tell my boyfriend. I got it when I was 15 years old, and was frightened, I went to the doctor and they gave me steroid cream that I rub on it when it comes up. It seems to move around each left and right part of my labia. It goes for months, then comes every day for 3 days. I don't want it to get really bad and turn into an abscess. I also try and have a bath when I have it, I believe this helps it a little. When I look at it it is red, and tender on the inside of the lip, and the labia has blown up a bit. I find friction makes it come up, but it is not overly painful during every day. Any advice for the future?

amanda on April 12, 2012:

Hi I'm 16 and I went to the bathroom and when I wiped It felt irritated down there and it burns a lot. I noticed a little bump underneath the skin near the entrance of my vagina and I did some research and I thought it could have something to do with the bartholin gland because its in that location but the bump is only like the size of a pea and it burns so I'm not really sure what it is. I want to tell my parents but I live with my dad so I feel uncomfortable talking to him about it. I'm not sure what to do or what it could be, I'm really scared. Someone help me pleaseeeeee!

Kimbercool on April 09, 2012:

Hey Jess sweetie I have a daughter your age are you concerned about telling your parents because your sexualy active? Or is it just embarrassment? If its just embarrassment then you need to tell your mom. Not trying to scare you but, it may not be your bartholin gland. Your very smart for your age and I commend you on being proactive about your health. But, the first step is to get it looked at by a physician and get it properly diagnosed. If its that you have been active you still need to get it checked on this one you might have to go through it, you want to be healthy and that's a pretty good siZe bump that your speaking of. Talk to your mom about being embarrassed to tell your dad or talk to another female family member that you can trust. You'll be fine honey. But, don't let it go with out getting it checked. You got to be a big girl about this trust me your moms a woman too she'll understand your embarrassment. :-)

jessie on April 08, 2012:

i am 12 and have 2 lumps inside my vagina, they have grown a LOT and i have had this for a year they dont hurt but are about half the size of a hand. i am embarrased to tell a doctor or my parents and even if i wanted to tell the doctor then my dad would have to know coz he is the only person that can make the appointments and take me their and i dont want to tell him. i am very shy and worried plz help me i dont want it to get any worse

Leah on April 07, 2012:

Im 21 just turned it yesterday had my cyst lanced and drained friday mornin. My paking came out a littke today but I cant pull it out without insane pain. Is it alright to wait til monday when I go to the doctor?

Annabel on April 07, 2012:

Thank Goodness for this site.Two years ago this lump flared up, awfully painful, uncomfortable and sore to sit down. Doctor only did a pap smear and prescribed Estrogen Cream even when I told him I was not suffering vaginal dryness. He told me all women of my age suffer vaginal dryness ( I am 59 years old )and to take a couple of Panadol and come back tomorrow if the pain persists ( which seems to be the catch cry of a lot of medical staff these days ). What I want to WARN women about when they have a vaginal examination using those duckbill type spreaders, the instrument actually covers the Bartholin Gland from the doctor' vision. The Doctor needs to do a MANUAL and VISUAL examination. Which a lot are reluctant to do. Hope this helps. Also my PAP Smear was clear.

Kimbercool on April 04, 2012:

They cyst feels firm and tissue like. It just feels like a fluid filled sac. You know how when you burn yourself and the burn swells up with fluid inside and it gets really firm? It wouldn't feel what I would describe as Bony or calcified. But, it is firm.

minnervajane on April 03, 2012:

I just went for my annual gyno exam and three different docs felt "a large mass that is bony or calcified". None of them thought it was a cyst but it is located in the bartholin gland area, left side. It is not painful but my husband did say it feels harder on that side as opposed to the other. I am having an MRI on google research has led me down the road of fearing that it is bartholin gland cancer. Can anyone tell me what a cyst would feel like? Is it palpable or soft or hard or what? Anybody have anything like what I have described?

Kimbercool on April 02, 2012:

Hey ladies ! Just like the rest of you I too have expirenced the bartholin abscess at it very worst. I have been having flair ups since I was about 19 yrs. old I'm now 31. I've had word catheres I've even had a marsupilazation done several years ago which has provided relief from the pain for a long time now. But, now it's back .!!!:-( and it's not causing pain this time but it is very swollen. Has anybody expirenced it blocking the entrance of the vagina. Has this happenend to anybody else? It's blocking my normal everyday discharge. Please give me some insight. Also can you feel your bartholin draining at any point besides if it ruptures?

AJ on April 02, 2012:

Thank you sooooo much for all this information. It has help me a lot. I have been suffering from Bartholin for at last 3 years, wow 3yrs without knowing what to do. at it's sad to say it but now I know I am not the only one and that I got options.

My previous doctors would only give me ointments as treatment. I just recently change doctors and turns out that this month I been suffering from an UTI infection and some viginal discharge so my new doctor send me to a Gynecologist. The Gyno asked me so many question about my sex life it wasn't fun. After telling him that I had Never been sexually active, he did the check up plus a pap smear without telling me( which freakend hurts specially the fist time) not fully convince he send me to get a blood/urine test suppostly for the UTI infection. But, found out through the lab personnel that I was also getting teste for STD, a sexually transmitted disease. I got so scared, didn't understand why the gyno didn't believe me when I said I had never been sexually active. Then, the medication I am drinking now are for chlymedia symptoms. Haven't gotten the results yet but did some research and turns out that Chlymidia symtomps are the same as what am going through right now. Here is the thing, I been having this for 3 years, sufferting from yeast infection since I was 20 and the UTI started a month ago after I got food poisoning. Guess have to wait for the results. I was going to ask to get it drain but I am scare after reading some stories, think gonna go for home remedies to see what happens hoping it will go aways soon!!!

Now, I am scare of Gyn :(

Rocsi Anderson on March 10, 2012:

Hello I am 20 years old and just experience my first bartholin abscess. This has affected my life dramatically, I had a word catheter place almost 2 weeks ago and it has recently feel out. I am scared because the doctor recommended it stay in up to four weeks so that it dosent recur. I currently don't have any insurance and I don't want to keep making these costly visits to the ER. Should I go back and have it replaced pleaaaase help!

ObsidianButterfly on March 08, 2012:

Hi there :)

My 12 yr old daughter called me into her room earlier today worried about her bits and showed me what I believe to be her Bartholin glands after googling. Both are affected though one is much bigger than the other. She hasn't started her menstrual cycle as of yet but I believe she will be quite soon. I found this page and now have relayed the information to her and will get her to the docs asap. Thankyou its really helped :)

PRITI on March 01, 2012:


pepstwolf on February 25, 2012:

Really like you hub! full of awesome info! I am sharing on my twitter @bartholincysts! Well done. check mine out

AA on February 21, 2012:

Also... I would suggest that anybody having this sort of pain should go to the doctor. I know it's embarassing but I'm a nursing student and we see these types of things all the time. I was a bit embarassed too but it's better to get help than to let it get worse. Trust me... I'm really glad that I went to the doctor and got this surgery. The little bit of pain that I am still feeling is relieved by the pain killers that were prescribed so all you ladies should just go to the doctor because only they will be able to tell you exactly what you have and how to relieve the pain.

AA on February 21, 2012:

Hi everyone,

I just had the marsupialization procedure done 4 days ago and I had instant relief. I went to my doctor around 1 week after noticing this lump and he prescribed me some antibiotics. Around 2 days later, I was in horrible pain and I could barely sit or lie down. My sister convinced me to go back to the doctor as I was unsure if this pain was some sort of effect from the antibiotics. As soon as I went to the doctor, he told me to go to the ER and have this surgically drained. The swelling has gone down almost completely, but after reading these stories, I'm starting to get scared that this could come back! The pain is horrible... I never want to be in this type of pain again. Also, I'm wondering if having this surgery could cause you to miss your period because I have never missed my period, and this is the first time I've missed it. I can't really tell if I got my period because the gland was draining blood so I'm not too sure.

Jo on February 17, 2012:

Someone please help! I'm really young and I'm pretty sure i have an infected bartholin gland. it hurts really bad and has been for 2 days. I really dont want to go to a doctor because it's super embarrassing. Is there any chance it will heal on its own?

t.d. on February 15, 2012:

thank the heavens for this forum. i am 32. i first noticed my cyst after having normal sex at age 26. mine flared up to the size of a lemon after 2 days of having intercourse. talk about scared! even a wheelchair wasn't an option. i thought i was a weirdo. even to go to the ER and tell the triage desk why u need to be seen is so embarassing. however i found that once i got into my room, this darn Bartholin Gland issue is all too common. I had a male doctor (again, embarassing) lance it for me. the whole time he spoke and acted gently, telling me this is just something some women are prone to getting. yes, they can be as big as an orange. immediate pain relief, and he said my fluid was clear, indicating no infection. i too was given a catheter. well its been about 6 years since my episode. but i still have a knot. perhaps the size of a marble. it does not hurt like when i had the abcess, but its definitely in the way. i have had many pelvic examinations in my life. no doctor or nurse has ever pointed out that they notice it, until a year ago. i went to the free clinic for my pap, and the doc says "what's this BULGE here?" i said "you don't recognize ma'am? that's Bartholin's gland." she asked how long i had it. i told her for years, only once having it lanced. she told the nurse to make me an appt to come back and she would handle it. a few weeks later, i found out this doc took a leave of absence, and never returned. since then, that clinic tells me they don't treat this condition, and they don't know where to direct me. i have no insurance. i'm sick of racking up ER bills. like i said, i am not in pain, but i cannot have an enjoyable sex life with this damn thing in the way. i experience discomfort after sex, but not a flare up or swelling. i once went to the ER for this, and the doc told me they refuse to lance it if it is not infected, basically to just "leave it alone"...but it is noticable to me. it looks like the equivalent to a male scrotum sac, but one "ball", if-you-will. i feel lost and confused. i only knew or heard of one other lady who seemed to know what this is about, my former therapist, she told me her daughter has recurrances. all my cultures and bloodwork come out negative. i also seem to have funny discharge and itching, which doesn't seem to be BV or Candida. I wonder if the gland is causing me to go back and forth to the ER and making me look like a hypochondriac.

wendy on February 15, 2012:

i had a lump and mentioned this to my nurse when i had a smear test the doctor gave me some antibotics it did go down in size and i never had a problem with it to be honest then a couple of months ago it was getting bigger i went back to my doctors who gave me a course of antibotics and refered me to a concultant.

i was booked it the next day for a operation to remove the cyst it went well i never had any pain and carred on with my normal rouine. then a week later it was back i went back to the doctors who gave me another course of antibotics. after i took the course it was painfull still red and hot to touch it had also doubled in size from when i first had it. i went back into hospital and had it removed again its been two weeks now and fingers crossed i have no pain and it is gone. i was told i could have another one in future and the doctors didn't know why some people suffer with theses. my question is how long after having it removed can i have sexual intercourse and will it be painfull ?

LovingPartner on February 15, 2012:

Dear all,

Must start with saying how amazed I am with all your experiences and perseverance to not allowing this disease to dampen your spirits. My partner is suffering from bartholin cysts. She has been having procedures done on an off for the last 5 years. Last December she had both sides flair up, and has had to have a cath put on one side, and surgery on the other side. There hasn't been any cysts since but she has been complaining of pains in that area that has made it absolutely impossible to be sexually intimate. It's been 2 months since the surgery, which I'm not entirely sure of the details, but I think she had a Marsupialization procedure, and we were told that an organic suturing was used that would slowly be absorbed over time. She feels a dull throbbing pain when she goes out in the cold, and she says that it feels like there is dryness even though I've checked (apologies for being a bit too open, but....) and all seems well. And when touched she says that there is a searing pain where the incisions were made.

I would like to know if its something that happens with cyst removals. And what can be done about it? This is really talking its toll on her and our relationship as now she has totally blocked herself mentally from feeling any form of desire towards me and in general, and I have no clue how to help!

CC on February 03, 2012:

I just got an I&D on a labial abscess today. The process was excruciating! I had a large gumball sized abscess which had to be cut in two places in order to drain it. A word catheter was inserted and I hope it stays. I am trying my best to do everything as directed. I'm very afraid of how my vagina will look due to the incisions and the tearing and stretching of my labia. I'm glad I have more information.

doreen on February 01, 2012:

I am 32 and have had at least 5 bartholin cysts since 2008. 2 were treated with antibiotics. The 3rd one was lanced and a gauze packing inserted. The 4th one was 2 months ago. My gyn lanced it and placed a word catheter which stayed in for a week before she removed it; she said it would form a channel through which future cysts would drain. I just found the 5th one what I did was I did sitz baths in hot water mixed with tea tree oil. After the sitz bath I also applied some tea tree oil to the head of the cyst. The cyst finally drained on it own. I also have some retin A and I apply a small amount to the area to exfoliate the skin and keep it soft hopefully it makes future cysts drain quickly and without abscessing. I want to avoid lancing as much as possible due to the fear of developing scar tissue. As I noted I already have some from the previous lancing.

jess on January 25, 2012:

I have Sjogren's Syndrome. It is an autoimmune disease that attacks the moisture producing parts of your body, causing dry eye and mouth. I have had infections of my parotid gland (salivary gland behind ear) many times. I am now having issues with my bartholian gland. I use warmth to keep the gland open, but also mucinex helps thin the mucus and drinking lots of water.

Britt on January 25, 2012:

Hey I have a question..I just had my cyst lanced and drained yesterday...they packed it with gauze and about a 3-4 inch piece of gauze fell out already.. The ER doc told me that if it hadn't fallen out in 2 days to remove it myself but it hasn't even been a day. Its still bleeding and draining but Is that ok? I can't get into the obgyn until Monday. Has anyone else had this problem before?

star on January 25, 2012:

Hello I'm 40 years old and my bartholin cyst has returned for the 3rd time in the past 2 years. Never had them before that. The first one i was 5 1/2 months pregnant. I was in so much pain i could not move. It was infected (bartholin abscess) and the size of an orange. The ambulance came to my apartment, put me on a strecher and took me to the emergency room. Where i stayed for 3 days while there gave me controlled amounts of morphine and help take care of me. They didn't want to do any type of procedure on me because i was pregnant so they waited it out. I can very honestly and without exaggeration say, I have 2 children and both births combined was not even close to that amount of pain. My boyfriend helped me take a shower in the hospital. I passed out in the shower, from the pain. My boyfriend caught me in time before i knocked my head on the tile. But oh when it finally burst i literally jumped out of bed rejoicing. The second recurrence was 4 months later with bareable pain and only lasted a day. One year and 1 month later its back again. No pain but the size of a walnut.

I see that most of the women on here are around in their 20s and the doctors say its normal for that age, but everything i read for women getting it for the first time in their 40s have a greater risk of cancer. I had HPV in my 20s and had surgery for cervical mild dysplisia. I'm terrified.

Is there anyone in their 40s that have a similar situation and/or know any information for women in their 40s?

tina on January 24, 2012:

wow it's actuallly nother "tina on here" thanks so much ladies i dont feel all alone anymore.This hs been one horrible experience!! ive had 2 catheters fall out since wednesday when i had th BG cyst lanced. so irritated my doctors didn't explain anything o me at all. i have been searching for explanations since i had the swelling and pain. I feel so much better now doing sitz baths and hoping it doesn't return. i'll pray for us all.

karen on January 22, 2012:

i had my b-gland removed about 2yrsago. but before they removed it i was to have it drained . same day surgery. during this prosedure i started to hemmorrage severely drs didn't know what to do so they packed me and made an appt for me to go to magees womans hospital in pittsburg pa where they removed it and also saw no sign of cancer. the area on the same side is now swelling again i'm going to see dr. tommorrow. but had no idea this could happen again especially if its been removed

dandl on January 17, 2012:

OMG, I can't believe I stumbled onto this site. Mine is a bit of a strange history but finding this site has answered a lot of questions. I had a large Bartholin cyst when I was 16 that was surgically removed. To say I come from a small, backwater sort of town and a very strict religious family is an understatement (not a criticism, but helps with my explanation). I was not sexually active at 16 and had no idea what the cyst was. The surgery and the after effects was definitely not something my parents or my doctor were willing to explain in any detail. All I ever knew was that the doctor told my parents it was a Bartholin cyst and had to be removed. My recovery was painful but, I thought, unremarkable. I have since married and raised 3 kids and while intercourse was sometimes a bit painful (pinching sensation), I never knew until I recently had a hysterectomy (due to an ovarian tumor) that what actually had been done when I was 16 was the removal of one Bartholin gland along with the cyst. The pinching sensation I've often had during intercourse and disfiguring of the labia on one side was due to scar tissue and effects from the old surgery. All of this finally came to light when I talked to my current OB/GYN after my hysterectomy when I raised concerns about the hormonal changes I've been dealing with since the hysterectomy (including vaginal dryness). When I found out what had actually been done to me as a teenager (MANY years ago), I began frantically searching the internet for details on Bartholin cyst/gland surgery. What a huge relief to know I'm not the only one dealing with this and with the complications. All in all I've had pretty minor complications, but OMG it would have been so much better for me if I had known what had happened to me so I could have understood what was going on! I can't believe my OB/GYN who took care of me when I was in my 20's and 30's never said anything. I guess he assumed I knew! Thanks to all of you who've shared your stories.

Tina on January 13, 2012:

Hello I am 21 yrs old and I just had my barth beast absess removed yesterday. It was indeed the most painful thing to go through. i felt everything morphine, hydrocodene "numbing shots" did not work at all. But after the worst 10 minutes of a scream cuss fest ever the wrd cath was inserted I am feeling fine today with just tiny pinches here n there the catheter is still in and I have to go back next thursday to get checked up. Its still kind of swollen but no redness at all does this mean all sounds ok so far? What are the chances of this coming back? If I ever have to go thru another lancing I would just want to break all my bones instead! These things just really suck.

dia on January 13, 2012:

oh thnx 4 this article its really very important for every women who had this painful experience. I even don't know the name of this gland.very-very thankful

Hosea on January 12, 2012:

I am so glad to read these type of comments and to know Im not a weirdo or only one going threw this. At the age of 21 I had my first cyst; it wasn't painful just big and got uncomfrontable after a few months I went and got it drained ; once drained they told me because of the fluid color it prob came from an std.. which at the time I had a serious relationship with My ex; so it put a strain on us because he was tested for Stds and had nothing & I had no other sex partner so I was confused.. testing came back Negative.. That was July.. the removal was very painful but the cathetar was even worse.. welp! Decemember rolls around & guess who comes back on MY BIRTHDAY !!!! THE CYST !! This time after 3 days it became Huge swollen red and very very painful; this draining was even worse.. I just cant picture myself going threw this my whole life.. and know one seems to know to much but guesses and assumptions, because here again when she drained it she looked at me in disgust as if I were nasty.. only for afew days later testing to come back and yet again all results show negative.. to the person who recommended making a website I am behind you 100% going threw this at 22; with no answers of how to prevent such a painful experience it makes me want to go full throttle with coming up with an accurate Diganosis. I dont think Any woman should have to go threw this.. I was considering Surgery the next time if there is one but to know that's not 100% effective scares me even more !!

C on December 12, 2011:

Age 23. It's frustrating how limited the information is on BG conditions. I appreciate all the information and reviews that are available. I am new to this, started with a cyst in September 2011 and have been battling it for three months. I went through two drainings, both with word catheters, and both times, the catheters fell out. My gyno said the next time would be marsupiliazation. I'm not too convinced about that either. I was given the okay to have intercourse, but I feel like something is still wrong. It is painful at the penetration point, but it is more bearable than the several weeks ago. I just want this to be over, as it is very discouraging. I'm terrible about keeping up on sitz baths but realize that I need to make a sincere effort. Hang in there ladies, we're all in it.

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