The medical name for Bartholins glands is Greater vestibular glands.
These glands are two small oval reddish-yellow bodies present very close to the vaginal opening.
Normally, the gland’s duct opening is not visible to the naked eye.
Bartholin’s duct cyst typically measures between 1 to 4cms and few patients may not be aware of it.
The Bartholin’s gland duct is about 2cm and is usually present in the groove between hymen and small lip of vagina (labia minora).
Bartholin’s gland secrets clear or whitish mucus which has lubricant properties. Recent studies have shown that Bartholin’s gland cells known to secrete some hormones in minute quantities.
A Bartholin’s cyst or Bartholin’s abscess, occurs when a Bartholin’s gland is blocked and the gland becomes inflamed.
Bartholin’s cyst is most likely in women of childbearing age between 20 to 45 years. In about 2 percent of women, Bartholin’s glands cause problems at some point in their lifetime.
Bartholin’s cyst or Bartholin’s abscess sizes range from that of a pea to that of an egg and usually form just within each side of the lower part of the opening of the vagina just outside the hymenal ring.
Bartholin’s cyst or abscess happens when the duct gets obstructed and secretions of Bartholin’s gland have no exit point. The contents of the Bartholin’s gland are a rich source of nutrient media for bacteria and hence predilection for infection to become Bartholin’s abscess.
A Bartholin’s cyst is not an infection although it can be caused by an infection, inflammation to the Bartholin’s ducts (tubes which lead from the glands to the vaginal opening).
Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. If there are no symptoms, no treatment is needed.
If a Bartholin’s cyst is causing symptoms such as feeling of heaviness, vaginal pressure or painful sex, then, drainage of the cyst may be recommended.
The preferred method of treatment is to give local anaesthetic around the cyst and insert a tiny catheter called Word catheter for about four weeks. Antibiotics are not generally needed.
The idea is to create a new opening for the Bartholin’s gland and hoping that it will remain patent in future.
Simple drainage of the cyst may make it likely to come back. If the patients are anxious about having this procedure done under local, then, the same can be done under general anaesthetic.
In most patients, permanent resolution of the cyst or the abscess is common following surgical intervention. If the cyst or abscess recurs, repeating the same surgical procedure is recommended than the entire gland excision.
Removal of Bartholin’s cyst is sometimes recommended in women who are more than 40 years old to make sure there are no sinister features