The Bartholin’s glands are located on each side of the vaginal opening. These pea-sized glands secrete fluid that helps lubricate the vagina. 

Sometimes the openings of these glands become obstructed, causing fluid to back up into the gland. The result is a relatively painless swelling called a Bartholin’s cyst. A Bartholin’s abscess may occur if the cyst fluid becomes infected. Bartholin’s gland cysts and gland abscesses are common problems in women of reproductive age.


A Bartholin’s cyst is typically painless, but can be tender to the touch and may be asymptomatic. Most Bartholin’s cysts are detected during a routine pelvic examination or by the patients themselves.

A small, noninfected Bartholin’s cyst may be hard to notice. If the cyst grows, a patient might feel a lump or mass near her vaginal opening. 

A full-blown infection of a Bartholin’s cyst can occur in a matter of days. If the cyst becomes infected, a patient may experience:

  • A tender, painful lump near the vaginal opening
  • Discomfort while walking or sitting
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Fever

A Bartholin’s cyst or abscess typically occurs on only one side of the vaginal opening.

Treatment Options for Bartholin Cyst and Abscess

  • Incision and Drainage

Draining a Bartholin cyst/abscess involves making an incision into the lump and draining the fluid or pus out. If the procedure is planned, it is performed under general anesthesia. 

  • Word Catheter

The Word catheter is a balloon that is placed in the Bartholin’s gland after Incision and Drainage to allow continued drainage.

  • Marsupialization

If a cyst or abscess keeps coming back, a surgical procedure known as marsupialization may be used. The cyst is first opened with a cut and the fluid is drained out. The edges of the skin are then stitched to create a small “kangaroo pouch”, which allows any further fluid to drain out.

  • Excision

Bartholin’s gland excision is an outpatient procedure where an opening is made in the skin overlying the abscess, and the entire Bartholin’s gland is then removed. 

Viva Eve’s providers perform all of the Bartholin’s Cyst and Abscess Treatment procedures in our AAAASF-certified ambulatory surgical facilities under anesthesia administered by our expert board-certified anesthesiologists.

Facts & Statistics

Bartholin’s cysts are caused by a backup of fluid. Fluid may accumulate when the opening of the gland (duct) becomes obstructed.

To diagnose a Bartholin cyst, a healthcare provider will do a physical exam. They will examine the cyst and look for signs of infection.

Two percent of women develop a Bartholin’s duct cyst or gland abscess at some time in their life.

Benefits & Risks


The benefits of treating Bartholin’s cysts include improving quality-of-life and avoiding complications related to Bartholin’s cysts, such as:

  • Bacterial infection which can causing a buildup of pus in the form of an abscess
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • A sensation of heat from the area pain during sexual activity
  • Fever
  • Bursting
  • Leakage


Even though there are risks to every procedure, technological advancements have removed many of the risks of Batholin’s cyst and abscess treatment. There are still some risks associated, however, including:

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Swelling of the labia (lips around the vagina)
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Scarring
  • Abscess coming back


Your Viva Eve Ob/Gyn will discuss the results of the Batholin’s cyst treatment at a follow-up appointment.

Talk to a specialist to discuss treating bartholin’s cysts.

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