This is a lump (filled with pus) that forms along the Bartholin gland, at either side of the vaginal opening. They form when glandular ducts are blocked and fill with fluid (Bartholin’s cyst); they are painless unless they become infected from bacteria (Bartholin’s abscess). This process may take place very slowly or in a matter of days, but when infection occurs, it becomes painfully hot and swollen and should be addressed promptly.
- Tender lump on either side of the lower vulva
- Pain in intercourse or when sitting
- Redness of the skin surrounding the lump
Who is at risk?
It occurs in females; more commonly over the age of 40.
Most of these cysts will go away on their own with good self care, like a series of warm baths or compresses to reduce the swelling. If an abscess forms, a physician may want to drain the area, send the results to a lab and conduct a pelvic exam to rule out further complications or causes. The incised abscess is typically packed with gauze or held open with a Word catheter to keep it from reforming before it heals. Antibiotics are sometimes in order to clear the infection.
Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?
Women under 40 may attempt warm compresses and baths in the short term. If swelling and pain does not recede after three days of conservative care, consult a physician. Women over 40 should consult a physician right away to rule out more serious problems.
Treatment for Bartholin’s Abscess is available now at Omni-Med in Florham Park, NJ.
For more information on Bartholin’s Cyst and Abscess, see the following websites:
Medline Plus (NIH) Overview of Bartholin’s Abscess
eMedicine page on Bartholin Gland Diseases
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