How are Bartholin's gland cysts treated?
The treatment can depend on the size of the cyst, how painful it is, if it's infected and your age. In some cases, a small cyst can be treated by soaking in a few inches of warm water (called a sitz bath) several times a day for 3 or 4 days. This allows the cyst to rupture and drain with little pain or discomfort. In other cases, the doctor can perform a minor procedure in the office. During this procedure, the doctor makes an incision and puts a small tube, called a catheter, into the cyst. The catheter stays in place for 4 to 6 weeks, draining the fluid. Then the catheter is easily taken out in the doctor's office. If you have this catheter put in, you can go on with your normal activity, although you should talk with your doctor about sexual activity while the catheter is in place.
Another procedure that can also be done in the doctor's office is making a small cut in the cyst to drain the fluid. Stitches are then placed at the edge of the cyst to allow a small opening to form. This procedure is called a marsupialization (say: "mar-soup-eel-eye-za-shun"). You may have light discharge for a few weeks. Panty liners should be all you need to use to take care of this discharge.
Less common procedures involve using a laser or surgically removing the entire gland. Both of these procedures are usually performed in an outpatient operating room as same-day surgery.
Will the cyst come back?
It is possible for Bartholin's gland cysts to come back after treatment, often years later. Cysts can be treated again, and the Bartholin's glands can be removed completely if cysts recur often.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff