Bartholin’s Cyst (No Infection)

Female external genitalia showing Bartholin's glands.
The Bartholin’s glands are very small glands found inside the vaginal lips (labia).

The Bartholin’s glands are very small glands found inside the vaginal lips (labia). The glands make fluid to help keep the vagina moist. When the opening of a Bartholin’s gland becomes blocked, the gland may swell and form a cyst. The cyst may vary in size from small to large (1 to 3 cm). It may feel like a firm lump in the labia.

Treatment depends on the size of the cyst, if it causes symptoms, and if it’s infected. Small or uninfected cysts generally don’t need treatment. Large cysts and those that are painful or infected will likely need to be treated. In these cases, the cyst may need to be opened with a cut (incision) and then drained. If you're over age 40, your healthcare provide may advise that the cyst be biopsied to rule out vulvar cancer. This means that a small piece of cyst tissue will be removed and checked under a microscope.

Home care

Your cyst does not need any treatment at this time. If you have some mild pain, you may be advised to take sitz baths. For this, you soak in a bath with a few inches of warm water, a few times a day, or as directed. This may help the cyst to rupture and drain in a few days. You don't need to restrict any activities, such as sex.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • Increased redness, pain, swelling, or foul-smelling drainage from the cyst or the area around it

  • Cyst grows larger or causes symptoms that bother you

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