Definitions

blessig's cysts

Bartholin's cyst

A Bartholin's cyst is formed when a Bartholin's gland is blocked, causing a fluid-filled cyst to develop. A Bartholin's cyst is not an infection, although it can be caused by an infection, inflammation, or physical blockage (mucus or other impediment) to the Bartholin's ducts (tubes which lead from the glands to the vulva). If infection sets in, the result is a Bartholin's abscess. If the infection is severe or repeated a surgical procedure known as marsupialization may be required to stop further recurrences.

Bartholin's cysts are most common in women aged 20-29, especially those who have never been pregnant or have only been pregnant very few times.

A Bartholin's cyst can grow from the size of a pea to the size of an egg. Cysts are not sexually transmitted, though sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis or other bacterial infections can cause the cysts to become infected and become abscesses.

Treating a Bartholin's cyst

The treatment can depend on one or more of these factors: the size of the cyst; how painful it is; if it is infected; and, patient's age. In some cases, a small cyst can simply be observed over time to see if it grows. In other cases, the doctor can perform a minor procedure in the office, in which a small tube, called a Word catheter, is inserted into the cyst and inflated to keep it in place. The catheter stays in place for 2 to 4 weeks, draining the fluid and causing a normal gland opening to form, after which the catheter is removed. The catheters do not generally impede normal activity, and sexual intercourse is generally abstained from while the catheter is in place.

Cysts may also be opened permanently, a method called marsupialization, in which an opening to the gland is formed with stitches which hold the secretion channel open.

The cysts are not life-threatening, but can be quite painful and can even make walking difficult. New cysts cannot absolutely be prevented from forming; however, surgical or laser removal of a cyst makes it less likely that a new one will form at the same site. However, those with a cyst are more likely than someone else to get one in the future. Some recur once every few years, while the more unlucky ones get them more frequently. There is not presently a generally agreed-upon explanation in the medical field for the cause of these cysts, nor agreement upon what can be done to help prevent them. Many women who have marsupialization done find that the recurrences may slow, but do not actually stop.

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