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Vaginal Growths: What are the Causes of Bartholin's Cyst?

Vaginal Growths: What are the Causes of Bartholin's Cyst?

Cysts or abnormal growths can be worrying, especially if they arise in sensitive areas of the body. Though often benign, there are instances where they could be signaling a more serious condition. One such example is a Bartholin’s cyst (or a type of cyst that grows on either side of the vaginal opening). What exactly causes Bartholin’s cyst? Is it always malignant?

Understanding Bartholin’s cyst

The Bartholin’s glands are located on each side of the vaginal opening. These glands help lubricate the vagina by secreting fluids.

Sometimes, due to certain circumstances, these glands are blocked, causing the secreted fluids to flow back to the glands. This results in the formation of a painless swelling called a Bartholin’s cyst.

If the fluids within the cysts get infected, a collection of pus develops around the inflamed tissue. This condition is called Bartholin’s abscess.

The development of Bartholin’s cyst or abscess is common and there are treatments available for this condition.

Typically, you are required to visit a gynecologist who will take a physical examination and suggest tests for diagnosis. This helps the doctor to find the causes of Bartholin’s cyst and suggest suitable treatments.

Treatments for Bartholin’s cyst depend on the size and the location of the cyst. Also, it depends on how painful is the cyst and whether it is infected or not.

What are the causes of Bartholin’s cyst?

Doctors do not know the exact reason for the development of Bartholin’s cysts.

However, doctors believe that in rare cases, the causes of Bartholin’s cyst can be sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including gonorrhea and chlamydia.

A woman who has not yet got pregnant or has been pregnant just once is at greater risk of developing a Bartholin’s gland cyst.

It is believed that a bacterial infection may be one of the causes of Bartholin’s cyst. The bacteria that can cause this condition are:

  • Haemophilus influenza (HIB) that causes ear infections and respiratory infections
  • Gonococcus that causes gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia trachomatis that causes chlamydia
  • Streptococcus pneumonia that causes pneumonia and middle ear infections
  • Escherichia coli that cause hemorrhagic colitis

Ways to detect Bartholin’s cyst

Your doctor will conduct a physical examination and suggest a few tests to detect this condition and the possible causes of Bartholin’s cyst. Also, your doctor will want to know your family medical history.

Your doctor will take a sample of secretions from your cervix or vagina to test for an STI.

They may also recommend a biopsy to postmenopausal women or women above 40 years to check for cancerous cells.

If cancer is the cause of Bartholin’s cyst, your doctor will recommend visiting a gynecologist who will help with cancers of the female reproductive system.

Early diagnosis helps to treat cancers of the female reproductive system effectively.

What are the treatments for Bartholin’s cyst?

Doctors believe Bartholin’s cyst requires no treatment, especially when a woman experiences no signs or symptoms.

Treatment depends on the size of the cyst and the level of discomfort that you are feeling. Also, it depends on whether the cyst is infected.

Your doctor will recommend the following treatment options:

Marsupialization

Your doctor will recommend marsupialization if cysts recur or cause discomfort to you.

It is a surgical process where your doctor will open the cyst and drain out the fluid inside. After that, the doctor will stitch the edges of the skin to create a small ‘kangaroo-type pouch’. This allows any further fluid to flow out easily.

Your doctor will cover the surgical area with a special gauze that soaks up fluid from the wound and bleeding. It can be removed after a few days.

Usually, this procedure is done on an outpatient basis as the surgical process takes hardly 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Your doctor will perform this procedure with the help of general anesthesia.

Surgical drainage

Your doctor will recommend surgery if the size of the cyst is very large.

Your doctor will use sedation or local anesthesia to carry out drainage of a cyst.

In this procedure, they will make a small incision in the cyst to drain out the fluid. After that, your doctor will place a small rubber tube in the incision. This rubber tube stays in place for up to 6 weeks to keep the area open and allow complete drainage.

Sitz baths to avoid the causes of Bartholin’s cyst

Your doctor may also recommend soaking in a tub filled with a few inches of warm water several times a day.

It may help small and infected cysts to rupture and drain out. You should perform this for at least three to four days to treat small and infected cysts.

Antibiotics

Your doctor may prescribe a few antibiotics before suggesting the surgical process. Your doctor can also give medicines if you have a sexually transmitted infection.

Rarely, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the Bartholin’s glands if the cysts recur even after using the above-mentioned procedures.

However, you must know that there can be great risks and increased complications of removing Bartholin’s glands.

Do women experience symptoms of Bartholin’s cyst?

According to some health experts, you may not experience symptoms if the size of the cyst is small. Women who have large or infected cysts may experience the following signs.

Symptoms of large cysts that are not infected:

  • Discomfort while walking or having sex
  • A painless lump in the vulva area
  • Swelling and redness in the vulva area

Symptoms of infected cysts are:

  • Drainage from the cyst
  • Severe pain while walking or sitting or moving around
  • Swelling in the vulva area
  • Fever and chills

Lifestyle changes to prevent Bartholin’s cyst

In most cases, there are no effective ways to prevent the occurrence of Bartholin’s cyst.

However, you can avoid certain things that are the causes of Bartholin’s cyst.

For example, as sexual intercourse is considered one of the causes of Bartholin’s cyst, use a barrier method of contraception. Use a condom to avoid the transmission of bacterial or other infections that cause cysts.

If you have a Bartholin’s cyst, you can use a warm shower to help the cyst to burst. This prevents the development of an infection or Bartholin’s abscess.

Try these lifestyle changes and take the help of your doctor. Ensure you are not ignoring the symptoms of Bartholin’s cyst.

As pregnancy is also considered to be one of the causes of Bartholin’s cyst, pregnant women should discuss this with their doctor. Discuss the possible risks and complications in pregnancy due to Bartholin’s cyst.

Learn more about cancer treatment and recovery, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Management of Bartholin’s Duct Cyst and Gland Abscess/https://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0701/p135.html/Accessed on 16/06/2020

Bartholin’s cysts/https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/bartholins-cysts/Accessed on 16/06/2020

Bartholin Gland Cyst/https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tw2685#:~:text=What%20causes%20a%20Bartholin%20gland,sexually%20transmitted%20infections%20(STIs)./Accessed on 16/06/2020

Bartholin’s cyst/https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bartholin-cyst/symptoms-causes/syc-20369976/Accessed on 16/06/2020

Bartholin’s Gland Cyst/https://familydoctor.org/condition/bartholins-gland-cyst/Accessed on 16/06/2020

Bartholin Cyst/https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17737-bartholin-cyst/Accessed on 16/06/2020

Bartholin’s Gland Cyst/https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/bartholins-gland-cyst-a-to-z/Accessed on 16/06/2020

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 30
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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