What is a Bartholin’s Cyst and What are the Symptoms?

A Bartholin’s cyst or abscess is very common & normally occurs on just one side of the vaginal opening

“If you have a small, non-infected Bartholin’s cyst, you may not notice it. If the cyst grows, you might feel a lump or mass near your vaginal opening. Although a cyst is usually painless, it can be tender. A full-blown infection of a Bartholin’s cyst can occur in a matter of days” [1]. And that is why it’s crucial to book an in-person or online appointment with a Vulva Pain Specialist as soon as you spot a cyst or abscess in this region

An Overview

The Bartholin’s glands (pronounced BAHR-toe-linz), are situated on either side of the vaginal opening. Their function is to help lubricate the vagina by regularly secreting fluid. However, in some instances, this fluid backs up into the gland, and blocks the opening. – This generates some swelling, which is referred to as a Bartholin’s cyst. In this instance, it is not painful; however, if the fluid inside the cyst becomes infected, it can result in an abscess (inflamed tissue) surrounded by pus [1]. If the cyst is infected, you are likely to experience:

•A painful, tender lump close to the vaginal opening
•Pain whilst having sexual intercourse
•Discomfort whilst you are sitting down or walking [1].

When to Contact a Vulva Specialist

Contact a Vulva Consultant if you have had a painful lump near your vaginal opening which hasn’t ameliorated after two to three days of self-care. The latter refers to home treatment such as sitting in a sitz bath (also known as a hip bath), which allows you to gently soak your vagina in warm water [1].

You should also book an immediate appointment with a Vulva Doctor if you are over 40 years of age, and suddenly discover a new lump close to the opening of your vagina. – This is to organise an examination, and any necessary tests to ensure that the issue is not an indication of a more serious problem, for example, cancer [1].

Treatment For Your A Bartholin’s Cyst

Your Vulva Consultant will explain the best treatment for your individual case. – This will be dependent on whether your cyst is infected, the level of pain you are experiencing, and the size of the cyst. You could be prescribed antibiotics, or be booked in for surgical drainage. And in some instances, you will be advised about self-treatment [1].


[1]. Mayo Clinic (2022). “Bartholin’s Cyst.”