Often a Bartholin's cyst requires no treatment — especially if the cyst causes no signs or symptoms. When needed, treatment depends on the size of the cyst, your discomfort level and whether it's infected, which can result in an abscess.
Treatment options your doctor may recommend include:
- Sitz baths. Soaking in a tub filled with a few inches of warm water (sitz bath) several times a day for three or four days may help a small, infected cyst to rupture and drain on its own.
- Surgical drainage. You may need surgery to drain a cyst that's infected or very large. Drainage of a cyst can be done using local anesthesia or sedation. For the procedure, your doctor makes a small incision in the cyst, allows it to drain and then places a small rubber tube (catheter) in the incision. The catheter stays in place for up to six weeks to keep the opening from closing and to allow complete drainage.
- Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic if your cyst is infected or if testing reveals that you have a sexually transmitted infection. But if the abscess is drained properly, you may not need antibiotics.
- Marsupialization. If cysts recur or bother you, a marsupialization (mahr-soo-pee-uhl-ih-ZAY-shun) procedure may help. Your doctor places stitches on each side of a drainage incision to create a permanent opening less than 1/4-inch (about 6 millimeters) long. An inserted catheter promotes draining for a few days after the procedure and helps prevent recurrence. Depending on how complex your cyst is, you may need to have the procedure done in a hospital operating room under general anesthesia. If you have an active infection, your doctor will likely drain the abscess first, treat the infection with a course of antibiotics and then perform the marsupialization.
Rarely for persistent cysts that aren't effectively treated by the above procedures, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the Bartholin's gland. Surgical removal is usually done in a hospital under general anesthesia.
Apr. 24, 2012
- Wechter ME, et al. Management of Bartholin duct cysts and abscesses: A systematic review. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. 2009;64:395.
- Chen KT. Disorders of Bartholin's gland. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 6, 2012.
- Patil S, et al. Bartholin's cysts and abscesses. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2007;27:241.
- Pundir J, et al. A review of the management of diseases of the Bartholin's gland. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2008;28:161.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. 51st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=8880. Accessed March 6, 2012.
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