The Bartholin glands, or ducts, are located at either side of the vaginal opening. They secrete a lubricating fluid. Occasionally, the opening of the gland will become blocked causing a back-up or accumulation of fluid. This is called a Bartholin duct cyst. This is the most common cystic growth in the vulva.
Sometimes the blockage is the result of an infection, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. The accumulated fluid can become infected as well. At this point, it is called a Bartholin gland abscess. A Bartholin gland abscess can be very painful and requires treatment.
The most common treatment is an incision with drainage and antibiotics. Usually, a Wood catheter is placed in the gland to allow continued drainage and a larger opening to the gland to form. This catheter is a short tube with a little balloon on one end and is usually left in place for 1-2 weeks. For recurrent cysts or abscesses, a procedure called a marsupialization is performed. The gland is surgically opened and then sutured open so that it does not reform.
You should discuss with your doctor if you are a candidate for this procedure.
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